Figuring out how to start a compost bin can initially seem challenging. You may not know where to start or wonder how to designate a container for collecting food scraps instead of throwing them away. This article addresses the best way to begin composting and the benefits of turning your kitchen waste into black gold.
Composting is a term used in the gardening community, but it’s not a fleeting trend. Composting is practically a way of life for gardeners and those who want to reduce their waste output. For gardens, compost is the ideal soil amendment to use before sowing new seeds at the start of the growing season. Even without a garden, backyard composting benefits anyone that topdresses their lawns with finished compost.
Despite a few misconceptions about the composting process, starting a compost pile in your yard is straightforward and endlessly rewarding. Continue reading to discover uses for compost, the benefits of composting, and what to put in compost bin.
How to Start a Compost Bin at Home
The basic principle behind composting is to collect organic materials in a pile and tend to them while it naturally decomposes. How you choose to compost determines what supplies are needed to make a DIY compost bin, but a bin is unnecessary if you want to create a well-managed compost heap in your yard.
What is a Compost Bin?
A compost bin is any container used to hold organic waste. When shopping for compost bins, you’ll encounter varieties called compost tumblers that work well for indoor composting and stationary bins that act as continuous composters.
Both options hold food waste and other compostable material to allow decomposition to break down the organic matter into fertilizer. The significant difference is that continuous bins enable you to add to your compost pile while scooping usable compost from the bottom. A tumbler holds a set amount of material that turns into compost before you empty it.
Make a DIY compost bin using an old trash can or bucket if you don’t want to spend much on a composter until you’re sure the composting process works for you.
How to Start a Compost Bin
Gardeners in urban areas without the space to allocate for compost piles, and there may even be regulations against it. Luckily, it’s possible to start successful compost with minimal space if you have room for a single trash can.
Use a large plastic or metal trash can with a lid as your container and drill two-inch holes around the entire can. Leave a foot of space between each hole in the top, side, and bottom.
Cut sheets of metal window screening to cover the holes from the inside before securing them to the can with the caulk. Because the holes provide air circulation, place a compost bin on wood beams or bricks to elevate it if possible.
What to Put in Compost Bin
Once you finish creating your compost bin, it’s time to add compost materials. Whether you build a compost heap in a container or the open, the materials are the same; composts need nitrogen, carbon, moisture, and oxygen to decompose.
Learn how to start a compost bin the easy way. Start by adding plant-based materials to the bin, like kitchen scraps, grass clippings, dry leaves, and garden waste that has not started to produce weed seeds. Most plant-based items are green materials that add nitrogen to the compost.
To balance the nitrogen, you should add egg cartons to your home compost, brown waste like wood chips, shredded newspapers, and twigs and leaves. As these brown materials decompose, they add carbon to the compost.
In a kitchen compost bin, you can add most organic materials, like vegetable scraps, eggshells, and paper material. Discover new and easy ways to start kitchen composting to eliminate food scraps and contribute to your yard compost.
How to Maintain a Compost Bin
The perfect ratio of brown to green material for compost is four to one. Too much green waste in your compost means the pile remains wet and smells. To offset this, add brown waste to help prevent excess moisture and generate heat in the bin.
Once your compost has the necessary materials, the composting process begins and eventually forms a substance called humus. Although they might seem similar, there is a difference between compost and humus. It’s helpful to know the stages of composted materials to know when to use compost as fertilizer in the garden.
As the materials break down, they create moisture inside the bin, and your compost takes on a damp texture, like a sponge. Aside from moisture, compost requires oxygen. Add oxygen to an open compost pile by digging in with a shovel and turning the compost pile over.
With a trash can, lay it on its side and flip or roll it with the lid secured. Add oxygen to your compost at least once a week until your compost is ready.
What Not to Compost
While knowing what to put in compost bin is essential to getting the desired result, it’s crucial to know what to leave out when you make compost from kitchen scraps. Although most kitchen waste is acceptable, certain foods are not beneficial to your garden and may create problems decomposing.
Meat, along with fish scraps, should never be in your compost. The smell of decomposing meat and seafood draws pests like raccoons and filth flies.
Avoid tossing dairy products, baked goods, and processed foods with fats and oils, as they draw pests to disturb the compost pile. Along with attracting rodents, the smell of these items decomposing outside creates a foul odor.
What is Hot Composting?
Heat is a vital part of the composting process because, as microorganisms in your compost bin feed, they generate heat that breaks down organic material. The activity of the microbes in your compost determines how long it takes for your compost to finish.
Hot composting refers to optimizing this activity to break down compost quickly. If you’re looking to have compost ready to topdress or to make compost tea in time for the next growing season, hot composting is the best way.
To start hot composting, use a container at least four feet wide and tall. Gather all the necessary compost materials and chop them into fine pieces to help them break down faster.
Cutting up the materials is easy if you run them over with the lawnmower before adding them to the container. Add your materials to the bin, water the ingredients to ensure they become evenly moist, and leave the container in a sunny spot to help warm the ingredients.
Hot composting requires the inside of your compost pile to be between 130 and 140°F. Use a compost thermometer for monitoring. If the temperature drops, turn the compost pile to aerate it and raise the temperature. After about three weeks, your compost should be crumbly, dark brown, and ready for the garden or lawn.
Successful compost is a collection of organic materials that naturally decompose with the help of fungi and bacteria. Food and yard waste you dispose of eventually breaks down once it reaches a landfill; however, adding them to a compost bin speeds up the decomposition. This controlled and expedited process reduces landfill waste and creates an organic fertilizer for your property.
We hope you learned how to start a compost bin with help from our guide and will share our tips on how to start a compost bin at home with your friends on Facebook and Pinterest.