Composting

The Conservation Committee recommends composting to decrease household waste. Compost bins can be purchased or constructed inexpensively. For more information, the Conservation Committee periodically holds composting workshops.

Composting Basics
Compost is the natural decomposition of organic material that turns yard waste and kitchen scraps into rich hummus, which can be used as a soil amendment. Today, there are several different reasons why composting remains an invaluable practice. Yard and food wastes make up approximately 30% of the waste stream in the United States. Composting most of these waste streams would reduce the amount of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) requiring disposal by almost 1/4, while at the same time provide a nutrient-rich soil amendment.

Compost added to gardens improves soil structure, texture, aeration, and water retention. When mixed with compost, clay soils are lightened, and sandy soils retain water better. Mixing compost with soil also contributes to erosion control, soil fertility, proper pH balance, and healthy root development in plants.

Types of Composting

  • Passive: just let it sit; it takes a long time and may smell
  • Active:
    • Provide aeration (turn the pile)
    • Moisture - feels like a damp sponge (add water if necessary)
    • Proper carbon (browns) to nitrogen (greens) ratio (2:1 ratio)
Insects and earthworms, and microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) help in transforming the material into compost. Ideally compost will be between 130 degrees and 160 degrees. With ideal conditions, compost will not smell and will turn organic matter into hummus in 3 to 6 months. Select a location in your back yard for a 3 inch by 3 inch bin. It must be at least 3 feet from your dwelling and your property (or 10 feet from the property line on a corner lot).

Materials
  • Browns (too much brown will slow down process)
  • Wood chips
  • Leaves (save up leaves in fall - mulch first to compact them for storage)
  • Twigs
  • Paper eggs cartons (tear up)
  • Paper (newspaper, no glossy, writing paper)
  • Toilet paper / paper towel rolls (tear up)
  • Sawdust (from untreated wood)
  • Straw or hay
  • Greens (too much green will cause odor)
  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
  • Grass Clippings
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Do not put in any fish, meat, dairy or oils
It is a great idea to mulch up and bag up your leaves in the fall and use them throughout the year for your compost.