Compost - Nature's Ultimate Recycling System!

What is Compost?
Why Compost at Home?

Composting is the process by which we can aid in the decomposition of certain materials through controlled means. Whether it is done in a pile, a bin or a windrow, composting helps to eliminate the need to dispose of our organic wastes in the landfill.

When we compost, we are turning our organic waste into a useable product. Whether it is mulch for around trees and shrubbery, or compost that is mixed in with our vegetable gardens, the practice of composting is all-natural recycling. No factories involved, only microbes and the occasional worm.

During the warmer months, yard waste can make up over half of your waste output for the week. Yard waste and drop-off collection programs cost you or your municipality money. Home composting and grasscycling eliminate yard waste before it is generated and is the best way to deal with this type of waste.
What Materials Should I Use?

Most yard wastes can be composted, including leaves, grass clippings, plants stalks, vines, weeds, twigs, and branches. Compostable food wastes include fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells and nutshells. Other compostable materials are hair clippings, feathers, straw, livestock manure, bonemeal and bloodmeal.

Materials should NOT be composted if they promote disease, cause odors, attract pests, or create other nuisances. These include meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, foods containing animal fats, human/pet feces, weeds with developed seed heads, and plants infected with or highly susceptible to disease, such as roses and peonies.

Materials that should be composted only in limited amounts include wood ashes (a source of lime), sawdust (requires extra nitrogen), plants treated with herbicides or pesticides (the chemicals need time for thorough decomposition), and black and white newsprint (composts slowly, so it should comprise no more than 10% by weight of the total pile).

Requirements for Composting
Perfect compost doesn't make itself. It has certain requirements in order to turn out right. Click here for more information.
Building a Composting Enclosure
Enclosing the compost pile saves space and prevents litter. The enclosure should be collapsible or provide an entry large enough to permit the pile to be turned. It should measure at least 4'x4'x4' (a pile under 3 cubic feet generally does not decompose properly), but no taller than 6' (too much weight cause compaction and loss of oxygen). The enclosure can be built of wood, pallets, hay bales, cinder blocks, stakes and chicken wire, or snow fencing. Prefabricated compost bins are also available.
Finished Compost
Though it does the majority of the work on its own, a compost pile does need a little maintenance. Click here for more information.
Finished compost is dark brow, crumbly, and has an earthy odor. Depending upon seasonal temperatures, a well-built, well-tended pile generally yields finished compost in 2 weeks to 4 months. An unattended pile made with unshredded material may take longer than a year to decompose.
Other Composting Techniques & Topics:
Worm Composting (Vermicomposting)
Fast Composting
Alternate Composting Methods
Compost Troubleshooting Guide


Back to Recycling Main Page