Composting is human intervention with the natural process of decomposition and the recycling of organic materials into a rich soil amendment known as humus. You can walk through a forest, scoop up a handful of leaves and you will uncover decomposition in action. The first layer will be recognizable as leaves, twigs, and needles. Below these will be leaves, twigs, and needles that have been decomposed into rich crumbly soil. By composting, you can transform your yard debris, food scraps, and many other organic materials into a valuable soil amendment which can reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides in your garden.
We’ll Show You How for Free
The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority offers free Composting workshops for your school or garden club. If you have any questions about composting, or want to schedule a workshop, call the “rot-line” at 465-1100.
Composting Saves Time and Money
- It takes less time to pile up yard clippings that it takes to bag and handle them as trash
- The only materials needed are what would otherwise be taken to the landfill
- Reducing wastes reduces disposal costs
- Compost can be used instead of expensive fertilizers or potting soils
Composting is Easy
- Composting needs very little human assistance
- Microorganisms, worms, rain, sunshine, and air supply most of the labor needed
- All the supplies needed can be found in your yard and kitchen
Mow slightly more often, you do not need a mulching blade. Do not remove more than 1/3 the grass blade length. Keep your mower blade sharp.Leave the clippings on the lawn and break up any grass clumps. The clippings will quickly decompose within days, replacing the nutrients taken from the ground.
Greens are the materials that are high in nitrogen such as grass clippings, landscape trimmings, and garden wastes. Browns are the materials that are high in carbon, including such materials as small twigs, hay, dry leaves, paper, and wood that has been shredded or chipped. Water can be added with a hose and air is added by turning the compost pile with a pitchfork or shovel. Materials that do not belong in a compost pile include: manures of meat eating animals (dogs, cats, etc.), dairy products, meat and bones, glass, metals, and plastics.
Alternate six inch layers of browns and greens while adding water to each layer as needed. Your compost pile should be as wet as a wrung out sponge. The best size for a compost pile is about one cubic yard (3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet) or larger.
Place the kitchen scraps in the center of the pile and cover to deter flies and rodents. With this minimum effort, you will find finished compost at the bottom of the pile within a year. You can speed up the process by keeping the pile moist and turning it every week. Add water and turn your pile once a week, or whenever you add food scraps from your kitchen. With this extra effort, a compost pile can completely decompose in as little as three or four months.
Recycling yard clippings and kitchen scraps through composting is not only environmentally sound, but finished compost has many money saving uses around the house.
Use compost instead of chemical based fertilizers. Compost helps break up clay soils and helps sandy soils retain water.
Mix compost with potting soil or make your own potting soil by mixing compost with sand or perlite. Do not use to start seeds or for seedlings.
Spread a couple of inches of compost around flowers or vegetables, and spread several inches around shrubs and trees. Mulch keeps your soil cool and moist and helps protect against weeds. You can also reuse newspaper or corrugated cardboard as a mulch.Make sure to remove all excess tape and printing on cardboard, use only non-shiny cardboard. All you have to do is take the topsoil back two inches, place the cardboard or newspaper, then replace top soil. This is a great weed control.
Finely sift together one part compost and one part sand, then sprinkle over your lawn as a slow release fertilizer.