How to Start Composting

Composting is not only good for the environment, but it also gives you nutrient rich soil to use in your garden and it’s a pretty simple project! The easiest compost bin that any emerging do-it-yourselfer can construct is one made from chicken wire and a few wood or metal stakes.

Supplies

  • Mulch
  • Topsoil
  • Collected Waste

Tools

  • Galvanized Chicken Wire
  • 5" Pieces Easy-to-Twist Wire
  • Wood or Metal Posts

Step 1: Choose the Composting Location 

Choosing a good location for your compost bin is crucial. Look for a level, well-drained area that is close enough to your home to be easily accessible, but let’s face it…not close enough that you can smell it from your patio. The ideal location is a spot that is sheltered, in partial sunlight and in close vicinity to a water source. And I repeat, not super close to your house.

Step 2: Construct the Composting Area

Roll out and, using wire cutters, cut a piece of galvanized chicken wire to measure 10 feet long and 3 feet wide. Fold back the 3″ of wire at each end of the cut piece to provide a strong, clean edge that will be easy to attach. Form a circle with chicken wire and attach the ends with 5″ pieces of easy-to-twist wire. For additional support, place 3 or 4 wood or metal posts around the inside of the chicken wire circle and pound them firmly into the ground with a hammer. Easy right?

Helpful Tips: To keep moisture in, line the bottom of the area with 2 garbage bags.
To dissuade wildlife, cover the top of the bin with additional chicken wire and secure with wire. Place a tarp over the wire cover to keep the rain out.

Step 3 Add Compost Materials

You can collect waste generated from in and around your home to begin composting. The first type is green debris, such as grass clippings, vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and plant trimmings. These are key composting ingredients because they provide nitrogen. You will also need brown debris, such as dry leaves, finely chopped wood and bark chips, shredded newspaper or straw. The brown debris provides carbon. To ensure an even composition, alternate layers of green and brown materials. Ideally, you should have much more carbon than nitrogen in your compost; the perfect ratio being 30:1.

Helpful Tips: Do not add animal waste, meats, oils, dairy, diseased plants, weeds that have gone to seed, or plants treated with pesticides or herbicides to your compost.
Break up materials before layering to make organic materials heat up rapidly, decompose quickly and produce uniform compost.

Step 4: Maintain the Compost Mix

To prevent odor and other unpleasant side effects when composting, make sure you properly care for your compost pile. Once a week, turn the compost with a pitchfork or shovel to move material from the edges to the inside, allowing necessary aeration. Make sure the compost stays damp, but not soaked. It should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge. If the material is too dry, add water. Keep track of its temperature as well. If it is warm or hot, everything is working properly. If it is similar to the outdoor temperature, you’ll need to add more nitrogen or green materials to the mix. Do you feel like a mad scientist? You should, this is an awesome home experiment!

Step 5. Use the Compost

You’ll know your compost is finished when it is no longer hot, and you can’t identify any of the materials. It should have a dark brown, moist and earthy consistency and smell. It takes up to 2-3 months to fully process. Once your compost is ready, spread it in your garden or yard to improve the quality of your soil.

Whoop! Whoop! You are an extremely competent DIY’er and you save the environment, nice job!

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