Here are five steps to composting:
1. Select your food scraps.
Start with fruits and veggies — the skin of a sweet potato, the top of your strawberry. Also tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, old flowers — even human hair! Don’t keep meat or dairy scraps as they will attract rodents. Some products like ‘compostable bags’ may not decompose in a home compost
2. Store those food scraps.
Any container with a lid can be used. Or you can store the food scraps in a bag in your freezer or the back of the fridge. That’s an easy way to avoid odors and insects in your kitchen.
3. Choose a place to make your compost.
If you don’t have a garden and still want a traditional composting experience you can take your food scraps to a compost pile that you share with neighbours or a community garden. If you are in a small apartment you could use a Japanese method called Bokashi or a worm farm. If you do have some outdoor space, your compost bin doesn’t have to be complicated. An old trash bin, an old wooden chest — just work with what you have available. or “You could just create the pile naked!” Basically you can just have a heap of compost — but don’t put it up against a wall as it could stain it.
4. Make the compost mix.
In the world of composting you will hear about “the greens and browns” — the two main ingredients for your mix.
“Greens” (wet)are typically food scraps, like fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, or, if you have a yard, grass clippings. These add nitrogen — a crucial element for microbial growth. Microorganisms are the true heroes of this process, they do the heavy lifting of decomposition.
“Browns” (dry) are more carbon rich — think egg cartons, newspapers, dried leaves, and pine needles. It helps to shred up the paper products before putting them in your pile.
A good thing to remember is that green materials are typically wet, and brown materials are typically dry. When you’re layering, you want the dry browns on the bottom with the wet greens on the top.
Browns are key because they allow water to flow, and air to flow, something called aeration. That will make sure microorganisms can do their job. “If one hundred percent of it is water, then nothing is going on. The microorganisms can’t work. You got this soggy, smelly pile,” And it really is layering — browns then greens, browns then greens. The number of layers depends on your space and your amount of food scraps, but try to keep the layers to an inch or two. You can also put a little bit of browns on the very top to keep away flies and odors. You need more browns than greens.
5. Wait and Aerate
How long do you have to wait for decomposition? it depends on the heat – if its hot it might be two months, cold it might take six months.
To keep things moving, you’ll want to turn or rotate the pile, perhaps with a stick or spade. When you start out you might be turning the compost once every seven to 10 days.
If it smells bad, it probably means it’s not decomposing — maybe your pile might be too wet or you might need to readjust your ratios of greens and browns.
when its ready it should have a woody, earthy, but also a sweet smell.