Back to Basics: Start Your Home Compost in 5 Easy Steps
Composting is one of the world’s most natural recycling systems. It is a process where living micro-organisms break down organic matter like fruit, vegetables, branches, leaves, compostable packaging, etc. into compost. The compost can then be used as a natural fertilizer. There are lots of ways to create your home compost, but the main components of every healthy compost are organic waste, heat, airflow, and microorganisms.
#1 – What should you put your compost in?
If you have a backyard, choose a location for your compost bin. A dry, shady spot is best. Place your composter directly on the earth to avoid compost runoff that will accumulate.
If you live in an apartment, you’ll need a well-insulated container with two lids. Poke holes in the bottom for airflow, then cover the bottom with the second lid to prevent leakage. You’ll need to introduce some worms, the most common bio-organism used in apartment compost are red wiggler worms.
#2 – What goes in your compost?
All composting requires three basic ingredients:
Browns, greens, and water. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.
Browns include materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs. Greens include materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, cornstalks, eggshells, and coffee grounds. Your compost pile needs an equal amount of browns to greens filled to the top. Then, cover it and keep it covered so it stays warm, and fluff it every few weeks to let air get through.
To speed up the disintegration process, cut your browns and greens to make it easier and faster for micro-organisms to digest.
#3 – How do you maintain your compost?
Keep your compost balanced, wet as a wrung-out sponge, aerated, and covered. If it gets dry, add water or more wet waste. If it gets too wet, add dry leaves, twigs, cardboard, etc. Every few weeks, fluff it to keep the air moving.
#4 – How do you know when your compost is ready?
Your compost is ready when it is dark brown, smells like earth, and crumbles in your hands. It will look like rich, dark soil. If you have a few bits of twigs or eggshells, that’s ok. If you want it to be fine or soft, you can strain it through a sieve. If there are large lumps in the pile, your compost is probably not ready yet. If the compost pile is still warm it means, it's still working.
#5 – Where can you use your compost?
You can use your finished compost indoors and outdoors as a natural fertilizer for vegetable plots, plants, or flower beds and improve the soil by spreading over dry or nutrient-low dirt. You can also use compost to create your potting mixture for planting flowers, vegetables, or saplings.
Do place your home compostable TIPA® packaging in your compost. To find out if your bag is home compostable, check the labelling on the front. If it is certified to one of the following standards, it is ok to home compost.
Do not place greasy foods, meat, chicken, fish, fats, oils, or dairy in your compost to avoid pests, rodents, and stinky compost.
Do not overpack your compost. Make sure it has room to breathe.
If you have access to industrial compost, you can include TIPA® compostable packaging in your compost. Check the label to find out if your package is home or industrial compostable. Both can be sent to industrial compost.