The New Black Gold
We probably don’t need to tell you the benefits of compost for your soil. With a few easy steps you can grow bigger healthier plants and save your scraps from being turned into garbage. Plus, composting gives you the opportunity to see exactly what is going into your fertilizer. So enrich your soil, plants, and life with some homemade compost. Find out how to make compost!
Glad you asked! Compost is decayed organic material used as plant fertilizer. Also known as ‘Gardener’s Gold’ or ‘Black Gold!’ The act of compositing transforms waste, or recycles waste, into nutrient-rich soil.
How does composting work?
Bacteria is what drives the compost train. They break down materials and create carbon dioxide (CO2) and heat. The temperature of the pile rises as they consume the compost materials. Compost piles can get up to 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit as it brews!
Critters such as worms, slugs and insects also digest the decomposing matter, pooping out finished compost as they munch their way through. Their secretions improve compost’s texture, binding small particles into larger crumbly bits.
What can be composted?
Lucky for you, the list seems endless! Here is a list of some compostable items you may have around the house:
Can’t get enough? Here’s a list of 80 items you can compost:
1. Dryer lint
2. “Dust bunnies”
3. The insides of a vacuum bag (just empty the bag into the compost bin)
4. The contents of your dustpan (just use discretion)
5. Coffee grounds
6. Coffee filters
7. Tea bags/loose leaf tea
8. Soy/rice/almond/etc milk
9. Nut shells (but not walnut, which may be toxic to plants)
10. Pumpkin/sunflower/sesame seeds (chop them to ensure they won’t grow)
11. Avocado pits (chop them up so they won’t sprout)
13. Stale tortilla chips/potato chips
14. Stale crackers
15. Crumbs (bread or other baked goods)
16. Old breakfast cereal
17. Bran (wheat or oat, etc)
20. Frozen fruits and vegetables
21. Expired jam or jelly
22. Egg shells
23. Old, moldy “soy dairy” and other dairy substitutes
24. Stale Halloween candy and old nutrition/protein bars
25. Popcorn kernels (post-popping, the ones that didn’t make it)
26. Old herbs and spices
27. Cooked rice
28. Cooked pasta
30. Peanut shells
31. Booze (beer and wine)
32. Wine corks
33. Egg cartons (not Styrofoam)
35. Q-tips (not the plastic ones)
36. Bamboo Skewers
39. Pencil shavings
40. Fireplace ash (fully extinguished and cooled)
41. Burlap sacks
42. Cotton or wool clothes, cut into strips
43. Paper towels
44. Paper napkins
45. Paper table cloths
46. Paper plates (non wax- or plastic-coated)
47. Crepe paper streamers
48. Holiday wreaths
49. Balloons (latex only)
50. Raffia fibers (wrapping or decoration)
52. Old potpourri
53. Dried flowers
54. Fresh flowers
55. Dead houseplants (or their dropped leaves)
56. Human hair (from a home haircut or saved from the barber shop)
57. Toenail clippings
58. Trimmings from an electric razor
59. Pet hair
60. Domestic bird and bunny droppings
62. Fish food
63. Aquatic plants (from aquariums)
64. Dog food
65. Rawhide dog chews
66. Ratty old rope
67. The dead flies on the windowsill
68. Pizza boxes and cereal boxes (shredded first)
69. Toilet paper and paper towel rolls (shredded first)
70. Paper muffin/cupcake cups
71. Cellophane bags (real cellophane, not regular clear plastic)
72. Kleenex (including used)
73. Old loofahs (real, not synthetic)
74. Cotton balls
75. Tampon applicators (cardboard, not plastic) and tampons (including used)
77. Junk mail
78. Old business cards (not the glossy ones)
79. Old masking tape
80. White glue/plain paste
How do you get started DIY composting?
Here are some pretty nifty tips to have the most successful compost pile:
- Start on bare earth. This allows organisms from the ground (like worms and bacteria) to access the soil and begin doing their part of the process.
- Shred your leaves. Shredding results in premium mulch that is much easier to transport. If you are having an unsuccessful heap, you can easily remedy the problem by shredding, which allows for greater aeration of the pile.
- Add a nitrogen supplement. Manure is one of the best nitrogen sources for your pile, but you an also use hay and kitchen scraps. Layering your nitrogen sources will produce the best results.
- Turn your heap every three to four days. Some may recommend turning your pile every three weeks, but turning it every few days will guarantee composting success. Because your leaves have been shredded, they are much lighter and fluffier, making them easy to handle.
- Consider a compost bin or tumbler. These are not necessary, but convenient for small yards where a more compact pile would be more preferable. Tips 1-4 still apply when using a bin or tumbler.
So now you know HOW to compost. 🙂