What is Compost?Download the Backyard Composting brochure as a pdf.
Compost is a mixture of decayed organic matter created by leaves, manure and other organic garden waste. This mixture is used to improve soil structure
and provide nutrients to fertilize lawns, gardens and farms. Decomposition, the process of breaking down material, is the key component in the creation of compost. Decomposition is aided by insects, worms, bacteria, heat produced by the sun, and moisture.
|Three Bin System|
This system helps manage the busy gardener’s compost
by utilizing three piles:
1. New materials
2. Active compost
3. Maturing compost
Food scraps and yard trimmings, such as leaves, grass clippings, garden debris, and brush, make up over 20% of a typical household’s solid waste. When treated as trash, these materials increase the cost of collecting and handling community solid waste. In the landfill, they consume valuable space and create potential pollutants. Composting is a simple way to recycle organic waste while creating a beneficial soil amendment for gardens and lawns.
Equally important, yard trimmings and food scraps contain soil-building nutrients and organic compounds which naturally recycle through the decay process. Compost is easy to handle and rich in organic matter. It is prized by gardeners as a soil amendment, mulch, and source of plant nutrients.
Browns & Greens
Carbon (Brown Material) and Nitrogen (Green Material) help to break-down compost into a fertile soil consistency. It is important to combine 2-3 volumes of brown material to 1 volume of green material in order for the decay
process to function effectively. Browns: Dried leaves, straw, corn stalks, and woody materials such as paper, sawdust, wood shavings, branches, and shrub trimmings. Greens: Grass clippings, green vegetation, food scraps,
and livestock manure.
• In our arid climate, shredding materials and frequent watering will aid in the decomposing process. Compost should be moist, not dripping wet.
• Compost can be produced within several weeks to over a year. If maintained, compost will be ready for use after three to six months.
• The ideal location for your compost pile or bin provides sunlight in the winter, shade in the summer, and is sheltered from the wind.
• Vermicomposting or red-worm composting is a great way to create compost inside the home if you do not have the outdoor space. Visit the worm bin located
in the Greenhouse for more information.
Possible Sources of Weeds and Disease
Cat manure, dog manure, diseased plants, plants with spreading rhizomes and invasive roots, such as quack grass and bindweed, and weeds that have gone to seed.
Possible Sources of Toxins
Plants or grass treated with persistent herbicides and treated or painted wood, shavings, or sawdust.
Open Stationary Bins
A variety of homemade bins can be created to confine the compost pile. The most popular are created by pallets (above) or wire fencing (below).