Cyclone Rake Blog: What to compost?
Showing posts with label What to compost?. Show all posts
Showing posts with label What to compost?. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Composting Made Easy


Composting is a simple way to improve the health of your garden or yard by adding nutrient-dense mixtures overtop. The best part is it’s 100% free to do and is excellent for the environment. Here’s how to get started composting.

What You Need…

First things first, gather your materials.
  • A container: Choose a 3’ x 3’ x 3’ container that is made of wood or even hard plastic. For small scale composting recycle an old, large garbage can and simply drill a hole in the bottom of the container for drainage. 
  • Find a shady spot: Compost thrives in a shaded environment. Choose an area in your yard that doesn’t get a ton of sun throughout the day. 
  • Browns and greens: Browns include leaves, wood chips, straw, branches, and the like. Greens are eggshells, grass, carrot tops and so forth. 
  • Manure: This is optional, but ideal if you want to get the most out of your compost.
  • Water hose: You’ll need to water your compost occasionally, so get a water hose if you don’t have one. 
  • Pitchfork: Trust us, you’ll want this tool if you’re mixing or moving compost. 

How to Do It…

  1. Compost requires a three to one ratio for browns and greens. Browns are carbon-rich and greens are nitrogen rich.
  2. Start by adding those carbon-rich browns to your barrel. Once those are good and packed in. You can start adding your greens. 
  3. When it’s time to add new material, use your pitchfork, to dig a hole and then add in the new stuff. Mix it thoroughly with the old compost.
  4. Finally, add water. You’ll want to do this occasionally to moisten the mixture to keep bacteria and microbes consuming the contents.

Tips for Composting

  • Include activators like chicken manure, earthworms, and comfrey leaves to help break down the greens and browns.
  • Steaming compost piles are a good sign that your hard work is paying off, so don’t panic if you see it coming from your pile!
  • Reduce odors by leaving out meat scraps and bones in your compost.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started with your compost pile by using these helpful tips today!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Composting 101


Composting is good for your soil. Making compost from grass clippings, leaves, kitchen waste and other non-fatty organic matter turns raw organic matter into fluffy, nutrient-fortified, soil improving compost. Compost is also good for the soil beyond your backyard, recycling instead of disposing yard and kitchen wastes.

The Science... Very Cool

Like any good gardening practice, the key to making great compost in your backyard is to understand some of the science behind the process and practically apply that science in your own situation. As it turns out, the science behind heating up a compost pile is, to put it one way, very cool.

Earthworms
Many different microorganisms – not to mention bigger critters like earthworms – will decompose the wastes in your compost pile. But your compost pile’s best friends are aerobic bacteria. It would take 25,000 of them laid end-to-end on a rule to make one inch. Aerobic bacteria are the most efficient at breaking down organic wastes into original elemental components. For more about them, and an easy-to-read description of composting science, check out an excellent explanation from the University of Illinois at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/science.cfm).

Good Composting Practices

Aerobic bacteria use nitrogen and carbon while they break down organic matter. Your goal is to create a great environment in your compost pile for aerobes. Follow these “good composting practices” for some sure success.
Collected Leaves

  • Compost plant matter like leaves, grass clippings, yard and garden waste.
  • Compost kitchen waste from fruits and vegetables and eggshells.
  • Don’t compost fatty wastes (meats, oils), ashes or pet droppings.
    Collected Grass Clippings
  • Some homeowners, with access to manure from disease-free livestock and poultry, may choose to add layers of nitrogen-rich manure or barn muck.
  • Build your compost pile with about two-thirds “browns” (leaves, etc.) and one-third “green” (grass clippings, fruit and vegetable waste). This ratio promotes the 25:1 carbon-nitrogen ratio preferred by aerobic bacteria.
Your aerobes will enjoy it if your raw compost materials are properly prepared. Make sure to use the mulched leaves and grass clippings you have collected with your Cyclone Rake! The chopped up leaves have more surface area for the microbes to feast. Layer the materials, based on the size of your pile, alternating browns and greens.

A compost pile with the right brown-green ratio is low-maintenance, so long as two things are provided: air and water. Aerobic bacteria do best with plenty of oxygen, and they utilize organic materials dissolved in water. A 40 to 60 percent moisture content is ideal; the more “browns” in a pile (especially wood chips and straw mulch), the wetter the pile should be.
  • Water collected from dehumidifiers and rain barrels can help
    keep the pile moist
  • Moisten the pile as you turn it to distribute water evenly
  • If you live near a microbrewery (or brew your own), wet brewers
    grains can be a fr
    ee, moist addition to the compost pile
Turning the pile keeps the pile from compacting. Some composters like to install a PVC pipe, with holes drilled in it, in the center of the compost pile. Others like to use a cylinder of chicken wire or even a bundle of sticks to help air circulation.

Finally, a word about temperature. As the microorganisms do their thing, temperatures rise in the compost pile. You can pay a lot of attention to your compost pile’s temperature, even purchasing a compost thermometer! A “hotter” pile will decompose faster, but this is not too much of a worry in the summer months. If you have the right mix to begin with, and regularly turn the pile, the temperature will stay in the range preferred by the most productive aerobes.

Once the compost is finished, it will be fluffy and black. Add it to your beds and gardens, turning it into the soil. Keep some of the “finished” compost in your pile to help jumpstart the next batch.

If you are interested and want more information about the science behind composting, be sure to check out resources available from your local Extension office or the link above from the University of Illinois.


Happy Composting!