How to Make a Compost Pile

Composting not only reduces waste in landfills, it also improves your home garden. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Compost is organic material that can be added to the soil to help plants grow”. This means that bigger produce, prettier flowers, and a healthier garden can be provided to you at no additional cost once you start saving your family’s leftovers and turning them into “plant food.”

Follow our guide to composting to help improve the planet – and yours Home & Garden – while reducing the amount of waste you throw away. Experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute share their tips and tricks to make composting work no matter where you live.

Why should I compost?

Composting is an effective way to minimize the amount of waste your family sends to the landfill. Not only does this reduce the methane produced by landfills, which is a major contributor to global warming, it can also help control garbage can odors in your home. And the biggest gain? You will have left a rich fertilizer you can use in your own garden or donate to your favorite cause.

What can I compost?

Food scraps and yard waste can make up the largest percentage of your compost – you can include many items from your kitchen and garden. But other household items, like newspaper and hair, can also be added to the mix.

✔️ Food

  • Fruit and vegetable peels and waste
  • Mushroom falls
  • Egg shells
  • Bread, cereals and pasta
  • Coffee grounds and some coffee filters
  • Loose teas and tea bags

    ✔️ court

    • Grass
    • Sheets
    • Wood ash
    • Sawdust

      ✔️ Other

      • Newspaper
      • Cardboard
      • Dryer lint
      • Hair
      • Nail cuts
      • Brown paper bags
      • Toothpick
      • Matches
      • Cut flowers

        What can’t I compost?

        Although they are biodegradable, dairy or animal products (even animal bones) will start to smell and attract pests, so throw them in your old-fashioned trash. The same goes for fats, oils and animal waste. Also, if you have a plant infected with a disease or an insect, do not add it to the pile, it could contaminate your compost and make it unusable.

        ✔️ Food

        • Meat or animal bones
        • Dairy
        • Egg whites or yolks

          ✔️ court

          • Diseased leaves or plants
          • Coal ash

            ✔️ Other

            • Fat
            • Chemical products
            • Animal waste
            • Produce stickers
            • Plastic
            • Fats and oils

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              How to compost outdoors?

              If you want to compost in your garden, learn the dos and don’ts to be successful. Selen Nehrozoglu, research assistant at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in New Brunswick, NJ, shared her helpful tips on how to manage your organic waste:

              1. Create a composting area. If you plan to use a compost bin, make sure it is easy to access and there is room for a cover to open. Nehrozoglu says it’s good to use sealable containers for indoor and outdoor compost storage. “For indoor compost, containers with lids that close have worked well in my experience,” she says. “They are easy to open and close while keeping the odor contained.”

                If you want to start a compost pile, choose an open area (you need at least 3 square feet of space) and scatter a few twigs or straw for aeration and drainage. Use wire mesh or fencing to protect your pile from animals such as raccoons (or even the neighbor’s dog).

              2. Balance the “green” and “brown” materials. Whether you go for a bin or a pile, Nehrozoglu says that a useful ratio for the composition of the compost is about two-thirds “brown matter” (sticks, dry leaves, or dirt) and one-third “green matter” ( food scraps or fresh plant waste). Maintaining a balance is important because “brown” materials are high in carbon, nourishing organisms that break down waste, and “green” materials provide nitrogen, which is essential for building the cellular structure of the body. your new floor.

                “Generally, I like to add enough brown material to completely cover any leftover food,” she says. “I use a shovel to mix the materials together, cutting up the bulkier food scraps like melon peels. After mixing, I add a thin layer of brown material on top.

              3. Manage humidity. If your pile is not getting enough rain, you will need to add water with a watering can or hose. You can also choose to add wet waste when humidity is needed. You go for humidity, not soaking.

                If you live in an area with heavy rain, keep the pile covered (a loose tarp is fine) so that it does not get too wet, which can cause rotting and destroy beneficial microorganisms.

              4. Transform your compost. Your compost also needs oxygen. Without air, your pile will start to rot and smell, so you will have to rotate and stir the pile. With the right mix of junk, moisture, and air, your compost should only smell like earthy dirt. Nehrozoglu says that for manual mixing – use a fork – you will ideally turn the waste every two to four weeks.

                If you are using a bin, you can opt for a spinning cup to mix the compost. Some also include an internal rail that breaks down the compost for easier aeration. With a drum bin, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Most suggest rotating your trash every two or three days.

                When you turn the compost, check the heat. The center of your stack or bin should be warm; you want to maintain an internal temperature of 130˚F to 150˚F. When the compost is ready, it will stop generating heat and look even and crumbly, like dirt.

                1. How to compost indoors?

                  How to compost at home

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                  Whether you are in an apartment or a house without a backyard, you can set up a mini collection station right in your kitchen so you don’t have to throw out leftover food. See below for a step-by-step guide from the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute:

                  1. Obtain a compost bin with a tight-fitting lid. Whether you go for a plastic trash can or a stainless steel version, make sure it comes with a lid. Some plastic versions can absorb odors, explains Laurie Jennings, director of the GH Institute, which is why she uses an old stainless steel ice bucket with a matching lid on her counter to collect compostable material.
                  2. Line your compost bin with biodegradable bags. While it’s tempting to want to reuse plastic bags from the grocery store, these aren’t biodegradable and may defeat the purpose of your composting. Jennings swears by BioBag’s compostable bags (available in 3 and 13 gallon sizes) even after trying a number of more expensive brands.
                  3. Store full bags of compost in your freezer. You’ll want to replace the bag regularly so that weeks-old leftovers don’t start to stink your space. Once your bin is at full capacity, secure the bag and place it in the freezer (yes, really!). This will facilitate the transport of waste, eliminate any odor, stop active decomposition, and save you time if you cannot get rid of it immediately.
                  4. Find a local collection service or drop-off location. If you don’t have a garden to compost your waste, see if your community offers collection services. Contact your local municipality or visit the CompostNow site which lists participating services across the country – some even provide in-home starter kits and regular curbside pickup. The rules all depend on where you live. If you are bringing your own waste to a transfer station, also check with them: Many have designated compost areas.

                    If you live in an apartment or in a city without a collection, you will probably have to put in a little extra effort to donate your compost, but it’s worth it, says Birnur Aral, Ph.D., director of Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences. Lab, which is a home composter in a community that does not have a collection program.

                    “Every few weeks I take my garbage to my daughter’s college where they built a compost bin,” she says. “In the summer, I take bags to my local farmer’s market and give them to a neighbor who sells produce and uses compost from her farm in the upstate. It’s a little way to give back.

                    1. How do I use my compost?

                      Incorporate it into your flower beds or sprinkle it on top. Remember, compost doesn’t replace your soil, but rather acts as a natural fertilizer to nourish your soil and plants, so add it twice a year for best results.

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