1) What's Compostable?
If you live in a community where it's required to separate your recyclables from your garbage, a lot of your composting work is already done. Most of what's not recyclable is organic material like orange peels or coffee grounds. If you don't recycle, those are the things that you can compost and turn into a fertilizer for your garden or mulch for your yard. Things you can compost are all natural, so they decompose quickly and it's an efficient way to return them to the earth. Though most organic materials can be composted, it's not recommended to compost meat because it takes a long time and it attracts rodents.
2) Collect As You Go
Now that you know what's compostable, you can set it aside rather than throw it in the garbage. It's best to collect and then put the items in your compost pile outside immediately ? it is rotting, so it probably smells bad. If you want to keep it inside for a period of time, you can use a plastic container with a lid that doesn't clash with your kitchen decor.
3) Mix Well
Your compost should be a good mix of both carbon-rich materials and nitrogen-rich materials, so they break down quickly and are absorbed by the earth easily. Carbon-rich items are brown, like wood, bark and peanut shells. Nitrogen-rich materials are green waste, like grass or leaves. These are two elements microorganisms feed on to break down your compost pile.
4) Air & Water
The two other things microorganisms need to break down your compost pile are moisture and oxygen. Your composting bin can promote both. Store-bought bins have some sort of ventilation so that the compost can aerate and collect, but it should be covered to protect the compost from too much rain water, which can drown the microorganisms. Compost should be damp to break down properly. Turning the compost every so often is important in distributing the oxygen and moisture ? this heats up the compost and speeds the decomposition process.
5) Ready To Enrich
Be sure your compost is ready before you try to fertilize your garden with it ? if it's not ready, it could damage plants. You'll know it's ready when it looks and smells like dark soil. You shouldn't be able to see any detectable scraps and it should not smell foul. It will also no longer heat up when the pile is turned.
There are many reasons to compost ? it adds valuable nutrients to your soil and gives new life to garbage that won't end up in a landfill. You may not save the world, but you can help out with a little bit of composting.