Composting is nature’s way of recycling materials. It is the natural breakdown of organic wastes by bacteria, fungi, worms, and other organisms under controlled conditions. Besides conserving resources and diverting organic material from landfills, backyard composting can save you money. By diverting your household’s food waste from the garbage, you can reduce the size and cost of your garbage container.
Recipe for composting:
Ingredients/ Materials Needed:
Stirring tool: shovel or pitchfork
“Brown” compostable materials (see below for list)
“Green” compostable materials (see below for list)
- Construct your compost container: Select a dry, shady spot near a water source to place your compost bin.
- Add your compost. The best compost contains a mix of "brown" and "green" materials:
- “Green” compostable material: includes fruit and vegetable scraps, bread products, grass clippings, plant trimmings and weeds. These materials are high in nitrogen.
- “Brown” compostable material: includes fallen leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips, and twigs. These materials are high in carbon.
- Mix: Turn the compost with a stirring tool regularly; no more frequently than once a week. This prevents unpleasant odors and quickens decomposition. If strong odors occur despite regular turning, add a bulking agent (straw, sawdust or dry leaves). Add water if pile seems too dry (compost should appear “damp” but not soggy).
- Use: The result of composting is a dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling mixture that can be used as a fertilizer, mulch, or in a potting mix.
- The ideal ratio for “green” to “brown” material in a backyard bin is generally considered to be a 50/50 mix (1:1 ratio). However, 1:2 or 2:1 ratios will still allow your pile to compost. Disproportionate amounts of “green” can lead to strong odors, and too much “brown” will dry out your pile and stop the composting process.
- Coffee grounds are high in both carbon and nitrogen, so they are categorized as both green and brown, depending on whom you ask. Paper coffee filters can also be added to your compost pile.
- Do not add the following items to compost container: grease, oil, fat, bones, dairy products, meat, or pet waste.
For more information and helpful tips on backyard composting visit the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension website.