Composting is nature’s way of recycling materials. It is the natural breakdown of organic wastes by bacteria, fungi, worms, and other organisms under controlled conditions. Besides conserving resources and diverting organic material from landfills, backyard composting can save you money. By diverting your household’s food waste from the garbage, you can reduce the size and cost of your garbage container.
Recipe for composting:
Materials & Ingredients Needed:
Stirring tool: shovel or pitchfork
“Brown” compostable materials (see below for list)
“Green” compostable materials (see below for list)
Instructions for Successful Composting:
- Construct your compost container: Select a dry, shady spot near a water source to place your compost bin.
- Add “green” compostable material: This includes fruit and vegetable scraps, bread products, grass clippings, plant trimmings and weeds. These materials are high in carbon.
- Add “brown” compostable material: This includes fallen leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips, and twigs. These materials are high in nitrogen.
- Mix: Turn the compost with a stirring tool regularly; no more frequently than once a week. This prevents unpleasant odors and quickens decomposition. If strong odors occur despite regular turning, add a bulking agent (straw, sawdust or dry leaves). Add water if pile seems too dry (compost should appear “damp” but not soggy).
- Use: The result of composting is a dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling mixture that can be used as a fertilizer, mulch or in a potting mix.
- “Brown” compostable materials include fallen leaves, straw, coffee grounds, wood chips, twigs and sawdust. These materials are high in carbon.
- “Green” compostable materials include weeds, grass clippings, plant trimmings and food scraps. They are high in nitrogen.
- The ideal ratio for “green” to “brown” material in your bin is generally considered to be a 50/50 mix (1:1 ratio). However, 1:2 or 2:1 ratios will still allow your pile to compost. Disproportionate amounts of “green” can lead to strong odors, and too much “brown” will dry out your pile and stop the composting process.
- Coffee grounds are high in both carbon and nitrogen, so they are categorized as both green and brown, depending on whom you ask. Paper coffee filters can also be added to your compost pile.
- Do not add the following items to compost container: grease, oil, fat, bones, dairy products, meat or pet waste. These items can be recycled at one of the Dakota County Organics Drop-Sites instead.
To get your own backyard composting bin:
Information on building compost containers (Missouri Extension Services).
Check at your local garden center for compost bins or go online to recycleminnesota.org to see if a Compost Bin and Rain Barrel sale is happening near you.
Check out a Sustainability Man video about composting: