The Basics of Backyard Composting

Composting is a great way to create free, nutrient rich fertilizer for your garden while also reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. A compost pile is something that is very easy to make and care for and is a very green way of reducing waste and producing a useful produce, in this case, compost for a garden. Many people assume that compost piles require a lot of work and are stinky pest magnet, but when done right, they simply smell like earth and they can be kept pest free. A well made compost bin is simple to maintain.

Backyard garden
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Much of what we throw away on a daily basis – from food to paper scraps – are compostable and biodegradable materials. These materials just end up festering in a landfill, many of which are already stretched to the max, when they could be recycled into a rich fertilizer. Basically, trash turned into treasure.

A compost pile can simply be a freestanding pile, but if you want to reduce the likelihood of dealing with pests and make it a bit more attractive, an enclosed bin is a great way to go. You can use a large container or simply frame the compost area with a wood fence. You do not need a large area to create a compost pile, in fact, they are easier to maintain the smaller they are. It is important not to locate your compost pile in direct sunlight, a shady area works best. Keeping pests out of the compost pile and keeping the pile in the most appropriate area simply require you to create an enclosed space for the organic material, while keeping in mind the conditions needed for the compost to “do it’s thing” appropriately.

Once your bin or enclosed area has been set up, you need to add the organic material. Food scraps, paper products, and lawn and garden waste are the most commonly composted materials. It is important that nothing toxic such as chemicals or feces make their way into your compost pile. It is also advised that you do not put meat, dairy or bones into your compost pile. This will not only help to keep the smell down, but it will also help to keep pests away. The pile needs to be kept moist, but not overly wet. An overly wet compost pile is likely to smell. The pile should be kept damp to the touch but not sopping wet.

With just a bit of guidance you will have your compost pile started in no time. Nature does most of the work and the pile simply needs to be turned using a pitchfork (or a rotating compost barrel) a couple of times a year. It is good practice to turn the pile when you add new material to it. A compost pile is a great way to provide nutrient rich, highly fertile compost for your garden while also reducing the amount of waste your home sends to the landfill each month.