Composting Basics

With spring coming soon, I’m excited to start gardening again, and I have a big fat pile of compost to put in the garden! Here are some composting basics to get you started…..

What is compost?

Compost (or Black Gold) is just decayed organic materials that become a natural organic fertilizer.

First, you will need a compost bin. There are several different kinds of affordable bins available at hardware/garden stores, and even some pricier tumblers that are easier and can speed the composting process. You can even start with a five gallon bucket, a trash can, or a plastic tub.

We start by using a kitchen composting container like the one pictured above. We dump all of our kitchen scraps (veg and potato peels, egg shells, etc.) into the kitchen compost container and when it’s full, we take it down and dump into a compost bin outside. Most of the composting containers have a charcoal filter to prevent odors. You can also just refrigerate the scraps until you are ready to dump them into the compost pile.

Here are some of the things that you can put in a compost pile….

  • Food scraps from fruit and vegetables
  • Cardboard
  • Egg shells
  • Newspapers (shredded)
  • Paper
  • Leaves
  • Grass and yard clippings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee and tea filters
  • Nut shells (except walnuts)
  • Sawdust (not from treated wood)
  • Straw/Hay
  • Wood chips
  • Fireplace ashes (not charcoal grill ashes)
  • Dryer lint
  • Vacuum cleaner lint
  • Plants
  • Paper napkins/towels
  • Stale bread
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Hair clippings

And here are some items you shouldn’t compost…

  • Meat or meat scraps
  • Fat or grease
  • Dairy products
  • Fish or fish scraps
  • Glossy or laminated paper
  • Large limbs
  • Dog/Cat manure
  • Diseased plants
  • Plastics
  • Used cat litter

A compost pile does best with a combination of green and brown items and it will need nitrogen and water.

Be sure to turn the compost at least weekly.

A fine chop or shred on the items put in the bin will speed up the composting process.

You only need one bin, but we like to have three. I find that when the pile gets full, it gets very hard to turn, so it is easier for me to turn the pile from one bin to another and use the empty bin to start a new pile. We use the third bin for the more mature compost that starts to look like dark soil. Black Gold, Texas Tea, if you will!

So get growing!

Happy Composting!

If you need some compost turning music to listen to, check out Neil Young’s classic album “Harvest” released in February 1972.

To search for compost bins on Amazon, click the image below…

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Husband, Father, Grandfather, foodie. I have worked in various capacities of food service for 50 years. Baker, cook, manager, restaurant owner, personal chef and food sales / consulting. Recently retired. I love to cook and photograph food. My other hobbies include organic gardening, fishing, bicycling, reading, music and golf.

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