Making Compost At Home

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How To Compost House Waste

Making compost at home is no big deal once you get the mix right. That applies to kitchen composting and garden composting alike. A right mix of ingredients allows the pile to break down into compost, which is rich in nutrients and with a high percentage of humus.

So what goes in the pile are:

Kitchen composting at home Composting at home

I. Brown material: Dry leaves, hay and straws, paper, cardboard, wood pruning, eggshells, tealeaves, sawdust, etc.

II. Green materials: Grass clippings, fruit and vegetable trimmings, plant and hedge cuttings (green), fresh manure, coffee grounds, seaweed, hair.

Green materials have a greater share of nitrogen than browns and speed up decomposition by nourishing the microbes. However, too high a nitrogen level is equally harmful for the microbes and too many grass clippings may spoil the whole show. So would cooked vegetable leftovers; the oils present shall slow down decomposition.

Both garden composting and kitchen composting requires using grass clippings sparingly at first; a thin layer topping every brown layer is enough. Else, they could be mixed with the rest of the green materials. Too much of grass clippings form slimy clumps that stop air circulation and the decomposition stalls after sometime. Moreover, that will produce ammonia.

Doing Kitchen & Garden Composting At Home

If adding fresh farmyard manure, then you have the choices of poultry (7:1), sheep (16:1), horse (22:1) and cow (18:1). Poultry manure should go in one part to every seven parts of the pile; for sheep, it is sixteen parts to one, while for horse and cow, it is twenty-two and eighteen parts respectively. Manure is also a large supplier of nitrogen; use that carefully along with grass clippings. A less smelly alternative is seaweed; if not, vegetable scraps are always there or the coffee grounds. To balance the nitrogen, sawdust and wood chips prove good choices; they must be laid in very thin layers or mixed thoroughly with green wastes like kitchen scraps and grass clippings. Treated or finished woods, however, should stay out of the list.

When it comes to the choice of leaves, walnut leaves are best left out from the list. They comprise chemicals that inhibit many plants from growing. They are not a good choice unless thoroughly composted. As for oak leaves, they are acidic (high levels of tannic acid) and take a long time to decompose, but once broken down, they make the best food for acid-loving plants. Decomposing them separately is thus a better idea and it makes separate compost for plants growing well in acidic soil. The same applies to waxy leaves (e.g. laurel, pine or rhododendron).

Eggshells are an excellent source of calcium to a compost pile and are highly recommended for both kitchen composting and garden composting; so are tealeaves - both green and black - and tea bags.

You Should Avoid Adding A Few Materials To Your Compost At Home

Wood ashes take care of both calcium and potassium; nevertheless, it's alkaline. So wood ashes and oak leaves are an ideal combination to maintain pH levels that won't limit any microbial activity. However, do not add charcoal briquettes or ashes from commercially available plywood or fire-logs; wax or other petro-products (e.g. plastics) won't do any good to the endeavor. There is more home waste, such as dairy products, cooked food and meat that you shouldn't add to your compost, because these materials have their disadvantages - and besides, they develop foul smell. The same applies to cat and dog litter.

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What you need to know when you compost house waste