If you have a backyard and you love to grow fresh vegetables in your garden or display flowers, you may want to start a compost pile. You could end up with some great mulch and have the best garden around. The best part is that it is easy to learn how to start composting and you will be helping the environment with your recycling efforts.

The first thing to learn about how to start composting is whether or not you wish to contain the compost or not. The container you use could be as simple as a garbage can. If you do not have a container, you can simply create an area approximately eight feet in diameter for your compost pile. The best place to have it is under a tree to keep the area from drying out too quickly. However, be careful not to put it under trees that are acidic, such as pine or juniper.

Next, you will want to start it by creating a mixture of green material and brown material. Green material could be fresh grass clippings and food scraps, while the brown material is dry, dead leaves, wood shavings, or old, brown grass clippings. Ideally, it will be a mixture of half-and-half. You can also add in a little garden soil, bone meal, compost starter, or finished compost. Just make sure you only add about a shovel full or less, as you don’t want this overtaking the other ingredients. Ideally, each item should be layered, forming a higher pile each time more products are added.

One of the most important things to know about composting is making sure you are careful what you do put into the pile. Dairy, meat products, and fats should never be put in the pile, as they will only attract pests, such as mice and other animals. Some of the best things to put in are leftover food wastes from vegetables, fruits, pasta, coffee grounds, and breads. They will break down easily and help you to create some very nutritional compost.

Another important factor in your composting is turning the pile. This should not be done everyday, as it is important to let the heat build up in the pile. The heat is what is going to break down the material in the compost pile. The best bet is to plan on turning your pile at least once a week. However, if you do notice a more than unpleasant odor coming from it, it may need to be turned more often.

Composting is a great way to recycle your yard wastes and it can help you to create some very nutritional product for your garden. When added into the soil, it may even prevent the need for fertilizer. To get started on your compost pile, you only need a few tools, such as shovel and pitchfork. It will take some time to get the finished compost, but the results will be worth all the effort you put into it.


University of Illionois Extension: Composting
Do It Yourself: Composting

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