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EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT HOME COMPOSTING

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Planning, Zoning

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Department Of Environmental Conservation EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT HOME COMPOSTIN...

Description

New York State Department Of Environmental Conservation

EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT HOME COMPOSTING But were afraid to ask

George E.

Pataki,

Governor Erin M.

Crotty,

Commissioner printed on recycled paper

What Is Compost

earthy-smelling mixture that consists mostly of decayed organic matter.

Composting is a simple,

nature’s way of recycling nutrients and returning them to the soil to be used again.

By taking advantage of this natural recycling process,

you can help lighten the load of waste that would otherwise go to a landfill.

Compost is used for fertilizing and conditioning soil.

It can be made from materials that most households throw out.

What Can I Compost

Yard wastes,

weeds and the remains of garden plants.

Kitchen scraps EXCEPT FOR meat,

bones and fatty foods (such as cheese,

salad dressing and leftover cooking oil).

Woody yard wastes,

can be used as a mulch or for paths,

where they will eventually decompose and become compost.

How Do I Build A Compost Pile

Compost Mound

Yard wastes can be composted without a bin if you do not mind the appearance of an uncontrolled compost mound in your yard.

What To Do

Pile your yard waste in a mound about 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet.

Alternate wet and dry materials.

Add wastes as they become available.

Remember,

if you turn your compost pile it speeds up the process.

What You Need

Compost Can

What to Do

You also need to drill holes into the bottom.

(This allows for air movement and for excess water to drain off.)

It is best to put 2 to 3 inches of straw or wood chips in the bottom to help it drain.

Turn the compost with a shovel or pitch fork.

Keep the garbage can cover on,

it helps keep out the critters.

You may need to add water since it is covered.

What You Need

straw or wood chips and a drill for making the holes.

Compost Bins

Blocks or Bricks

Leave spaces between the blocks or bricks to permit air to circulate.

The best size is approximately 5 to 8 feet square and 3 to 4 feet high.

Snow Fence

Just drive four corner posts into the ground and attach the snow fence.

Used Pallets

You may want to keep one corner loose,

so the bin can be opened for turning and removing compost.

Small-Mesh Wire Fencing

form into a circle or square and add your compost materials.

Bins do not have to be square,

they can be rectangular or a circular structure,

Remember,

a bin 3-to-4 feet in height and 5-to-8 feet square will do.

Locate it away from buildings and combustible materials.

Store Bought Bins

How Do I Start My Compost Pile

? Begin by collecting your yard wastes and throwing them in your pile or bin.

You can then add yard and food wastes anytime but it is best to bury the food waste in your pile (it helps keep out the critters).

Chopping or mowing your wastes makes the process go faster.

Just remember if you want a finished compost,

you will need to start a new pile and let the first pile completely compost.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Yard wastes make up approximately 15

Food wastes make up approximately 9% of the waste stream or about 100 pounds per person per year.

That’s All There Is To It

bones and fatty foods) should be added to the center of the waste layers where heat will be the greatest.

This also reduces unwanted critters coming to your compost pile.

Pile waste material loosely in the bin.

Too much compaction inhibits the flow of air through the pile.

It helps to make the top layer slant toward the center where it will catch rainfall.

Water is the key to successful composting.

A compost pile should be kept damp

Be patient

! It will take six months to a year before the compost is ready for use.

How Does Composting Work

? Many organisms are involved in the composting process.

They include bacteria,

ants and the most famous earthworms

Compostable materials contain carbon and nitrogen.

We refer to them as greens and browns.

Greens are fruit and vegetable wastes,

Browns are leaves,

The microorganisms use the carbon in leaves as an energy source.

The nitrogen supplies the microbes with proteins to grow and multiply.

The decomposing organisms need both carbon and nitrogen to work.

This is called the carbon

The following is the C:N Ratio for various materials.

Kitchen Wastes Grass Clippings Leaves Paper Sawdust

A mix of materials composed of 30

Composting is an aerobic process.

This means it needs oxygen to work.

Also,

if you chop or mow your compost materials,

the composting process works faster.

The more surface area the better.

For optimum composting,

the compost temperature should be around 90° to 140°.

The pile will be hot initially after adding materials and will then cool down.

Here in New York State,

composting will shut down for the winter.

This is not a problem,

because the composting process will start up again when the weather gets warmer.

you mix your greens and browns,

in 6 to 12 months you have “Black Gold.”

Why Should I Make Compost

practical way to recycle your organic yard and kitchen waste.

U Compost is an excellent soil conditioner for even the smallest yard and garden

U Compost grows healthy plants and healthy plants improve the air by removing carbon dioxide and making fresh oxygen.

U For serious gardeners,

compost is an inexpensive alternative to peat and other soil enhancements.

Uses for Compost Gardens

Use it around garden beds,

Lawns

You will need to finely screen the compost first.

House Plants

Composting Do’s And Don’ts DO add lime,

small amounts of wood ashes or crushed eggshells to the compost pile to neutralize acids which may form and cause an odor problem.

DO mix grass clippings with other wastes to loosen them up.

They have a tendency to compact.

DO keep the compost pile damp,

DON’T use unfinished compost.

It will rob your plants of nitrogen instead of acting as a fertilizer.

DON’T compost weeds that are heavily laden with seeds.

Some seeds will not be killed during the heating process.

DON’T add diseased vegetable plants to the pile if the compost will be used on a vegetable garden.

The disease organisms may reappear the following year.

DON’T add meat,

bones or fatty food scraps to the compost mixture.

They will attract animals (dogs,

etc.) and they do not decompose readily.

Composting Summary Composting is simple and easy

! Now that you read this booklet,

you can be a composting expert

! Just remember your compost pile needs: ‚ Microorganism,

‚ A good C:N Ratio (greens and browns).

‚ A large enough pile to keep itself warm if you want compost in six months.

‚ Enough moisture (but not too wet).

Put it all together and the microorganisms and bugs will do the rest

Yard Waste Management Besides Composting Mulching

Use woody yard wastes,

Just spread the materials around your plants.

Woody wastes may need to be chipped first.

Leave It On The Lawn

For more information on this,

see our “Leave It On The Lawn” pamphlet.

Troubleshooting Your Compost Pile SYMPTOM

PROBLEM

SOLUTION

Rotten odor.

Not enough air Too much water

Turn the mixture.

Add dry materials.

Low pile temperature.

Pile too dry Pile too small Lack of air

Moisten materials while turning the pile.

Make pile larger.

Turn the pile.

Compost too hot.

Pile too big.

Make the pile smaller

The compost is damp & warm in the middle,

Too small

Add more materials and turn.

The compost is damp and sweet smelling but will not heat up.

Lack of nitrogen

Add grass clippings,

For More Information If you want to know more about composting and ways to make good compost,

consult books or gardening magazines at your local library

listed in the telephone directory.

Or call or write to: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Solid & Hazardous Materials Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling 625 Broadway Albany,

NY 12233-7253 (518) 402-8704