home composting 101 recycle utah, your local community recycling center since 1990 park city, utah

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Home Composting 101

Home Composting 101Recycle Utah, Your Local community Recycling Center Since 1990Park City, Utah

1What is Composting? Why Should We Do It?Composting is the accelerated break-down of organic material

It can divert up to 30% of waste headed for the landfill

Composting regulates water retention and improves soil structure

Protection against erosion and soil-borne diseases

Humus, compostings end-product, is nutrient-rich and can act as a chemical free, organic fertilizer

The Big FourGREENSNitrogen-rich, moist materials that will help provide heat for the decomposition process

Fruit and vegetable scrapsGrass clippingsFlowersCorn cobs and stalksCoffee grounds and filtersBROWNSCarbon-rich, dry, anything from a tree

Leaves, twigs, and pine needlesEgg shellsShredded newspaperCardboard scrapsFireplace ashesStraw and Hay

Water & OxygenWater creates a moist environment that is required for the break-down process to work

Compost piles shrink considerably due to water loss

Aerobic bacteria needs to be created by leaving space for air (and oxygen!) to move

3Compostable vs. Non-CompostableCompostableFruit and vegetable scrapsGrass, tree, and hedge clippingsHair and nail clippingsEgg ShellsCoffee grounds, filters, and tea bagsShredded newspaper and cardboard scrapsPaper napkins and plates

Non-CompostableBread products pasta, cakes, or baked goodsCooking oils or animal fatsMeat and bonesDairy ProductsRiceWalnutsAnimal and human fecesDiseased plants

Household Compost Structures

No bin system

Loose system without barriers

This method is not suggested for kitchen wasteOne bin system

Can be homemade, or bought at Recycle UtahHoop system composter

Can easily be homemade with recycled chicken-wire and wooden stakesA homemade composter made from recycled wooden pallets

Pallets can be found at Recycle UtahCompost PreparationInitial Prep

You will need to pick a level, well-drained area for the compost heap

Your compost heap needs to be at least 4 x 4 feet

Rake the ground before starting the compost heap

Compost Preparation

Layers

For a functional compost system, you will need one part green matter to three parts brown matter

Layer 1: Brown matter like dry leaves to ensure airflow and to add carbon

Layer 2: Green matter like kitchen waste to add nitrogen

Layer 3: A small layer of soil to add microorganisms

Compost PreparationWater and Oxygen

The compost heap will need periodic watering

The compost heap will need periodic movement

The movement will fuel the microorganisms and the decomposition process by allowing oxygen to flow

Potential Problems with your CompostNot Hot EnoughIf the compost is below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it is important to know that the decomposition process is still happening, just at a slower rate

Problem: The compost pile is too small

Solution: Collect more brown and green matter to mix into the pileToo DryThe center of the compost pile is too dry dryer than a damp washcloth

Problem: Not enough water

Solution: Mix in more green matter, add water, and turn the pile

Potential Problems with your CompostBad OdorThe compost heap is not supposed to smell bad

Problem: The compost heap is too wet, without sufficient oxygen

Solution: Mix in brown matter, and turn the pileToo WetThe compost heap should be as moist as a damp washcloth

Problem: Lack of nitrogen

Solution: Mix in green matter like fruit and veggie scraps, or grass clippings

Black Gold - The Finished ProductWhat is Humus?Humus is what youre left with after the composting process is complete

Once you can no longer discern the original materials and the matter is a rich brown color, you know you have humus

What can you do with it?Humus can be used in lieu of store-bought soil for gardening beds and potted plants

Humus can replace chemical fertilizers due to its high nutrient content

Use as a root stabilizer or mulch

The Magical Organic MethodTrench CompostingDig trenches in your garden between raised beds

Fill the trenches with dry or wet leaves

By next growing season, you will have trenches filled with humus nutrient dense soilComposting PocketsDig a hole in your garden about a foot and a half deep

Fill the hole with kitchen scraps, and cover with soil

By the next growing season, you will have pockets filled with humus nutrient dense soilLeave Grass ClippingsGrass clippings are 85% water and decompose quickly

Set your mower to 3 tall

Leave the grass clippings on the grass

The grass clippings will serve as a natural fertilizer for your lawn

Sources and Creditshttp://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthknd/compost/compost.htmlComposting For Kids http://sustainable.tamu.edu/slidesets/kidscompost/cover.htmlSOCRRA - Home Composting. Recycle your yard waste the natural way. Recycle Utah - Compost Benefits for healthy soils and water protection.

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