Petite Inspirations

In the name of inspiration and all things interesting to me and hopefully you.

Composting Basics


Composting is a natural process and natures way of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost, just like the leaves of a tree on the forest floor decomposes after some time. Anything that was once living will eventually decompose. Basically, backyard composting is an accelerated version of natures process.  A combination of green and brown vegetable matter kept barely moist and turned regularly will “rot” into a dark, aromatic material filled with the beneficial bacteria, microbes and fungi that enable your plants to grow healthy and strong. When you compost, you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue. Finished compost looks like soil–dark brown, crumbly and smells earthy.

Types of composting:

  • Backyard composting — If you have a yard or garden, you have all you need to make compost (grass, shrub, and tree clippings).
  • Worm composting (vermicomposting) — great for folk with small yards or live in an apartment

Ingredients for succesful composting:

  1. Nitrogen (greens) i.e., grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps
  2. Carbon (browns) i.e., dried leaves, paper, wood chips
  3. Oxygen
  4. Water

DO compost:

  • Animal (cow, horse, or chicken) manure
  • Yard trimmings
  • Fruits, vegetables, and scraps
  • Cardboard rolls
  • Clean paper
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Eggshells and paper egg containers
  • Grass clippings
  • Hair and fur
  • Hay and straw
  • Houseplants
  • Leaves
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Tea bags
  • Wood chips

DO NOT compost:

  • Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs – creates odor problems and attract pests like flies or mice
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils – creates odor problems and attract pests
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps – creates odor problems and attract pests
  • Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter) – may contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides – may kill beneficial composting organisms
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants – diseases or insects may survive and be transferred back to other plants
  • Coal or charcoal ash – may contain substances harmful to plants
  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs – releases substances that are harmful to plants

There are many different ways to compost. The simplest is to just make a pile with the ‘Do compost’ items and let it sit. Even if you don’t do anything, it will eventually break down in a few months to a year. This process will take much longer than if you turned your compost regularly (about 4-8 weeks, depending on pile size).  Also, a properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad.

What do you think of composting?

Here are more links that I’ve found helpful, as well as some youtube videos:
Mother Earth News: How to Start a Compost Pile

EarthEasy.com – Composting

EPA.gov – Create your own compost pile

Composting 101

HowToCompost.org – Top 10 Composting tips

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