What is composting?

Composting is the biological decomposition or organic matter into a product beneficial for plant growth and soil conditioning. Organic matter added to the soil as compost improves plant growth and vigor, soil structure, drainage, holds plant nutrients and releases nitrogen for plant and soil microorganisms. Composting organic matter into a soil conditioner can be enhanced by using Natural Guard® by ferti•lome® Compost Maker to speed up the composting process and insure that the finished compost will provide the proper nutrients and optimum moisture (about 50% moisture) and air that is necessary for the microorganisms to break down organic matter. The amount and proportion of these nutrients is a critical factor to the quality  of the compost material created.

Benefits of composting

  • Provides an inexpensive yet nutrient-rich soil conditioner that will increase the growth and vigor of plants
  • Improves soil structure, drainage, and releases the nitrogen for plant and soil organisms
  • Reduces leaching of plant essential elements such as potassium, calcium and magnesium
  • Composting generates heat that can destroy weed seeds, plant pathogens and insect eggs making the finished product more disease-free than its original form
  • Improves the soil's physical characteristics , making it more workable
  • Turns water into a nutritionally rich humus for flowers, shrubs, vegetables and lawns

A compost bin can easily be made from boards, cinder blocks, snow fence, chicken wore or even a trash can or plastic container.


"What can I put in my compost bin?"

via The Spruce

There are two basic types of materials (greens and browns, i.e., nitrogen-rich and carbon-rich) to put into your bin. In general, you want about 4 times as many browns as greens.

Greens for Your Compost Bin

"Greens" are the nitrogen-rich additions to your compost pile. These tend to have lots of moisture, break down quickly, and provide a quick burst of heat to your pile. While we call them "greens," technically any plant matter will work here: coffee grounds, for example, are brown in color, but they're rich in nitrogen, hence, they're a "green." Here are some ideas of greens for your pile:

  1. Fruit and vegetable peels
  2. Citrus rinds
  3. Melon rinds
  4. Coffee grounds
  5. Tea leaves/tea bags
  6. Old vegetables from the crisper
  7. Houseplant trimmings
  8. Weeds that haven't gone to seed
  9. Grass clippings
  10. Fresh leaves
  11. Deadheads from flowers
  12. Dead plants (as long as they aren't diseased)
  13. Seaweed
  14. Cooked plain rice
  15. Cooked plain pasta
  16. Stale bread
  17. Corn husks
  18. Corn cobs
  19. Broccoli stalks
  20. Sod that you've removed to make new garden beds
  21. Thinninga from the vegetable garden
  22. Spent bulbs that you used for forcing indoors
  23. Holiday greenery (from wreaths and swags, for example) -- just be sure to cut the stems off of the wreath form or wires first)
  24. Old, less flavorful packaged herbs and spices
  25. Eggshells

Browns for Your Compost Bin

"Browns" are the carbon-rich materials in your compost that add aeration to the pile and structure to your compost. They break down more slowly, so it's a good idea to chop them up fairly small if you're able to. Here are some browns to put in your compost pile:

  1. Shredded newspaper
  2. Shredded office paper/school papers
  3. Shredded, non-glossy junk mail
  4. Torn up plain corrugated cardboard boxes (not with glossy coatings)
  5. Straw
  6. Bedding from hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits
  7. Fall leaves
  8. Chopped up twigs and small branches
  9. Pine cones
  10. Nutshells (avoid walnut shells as they can inhibit plant growth)
  11. Excelsior
  12. Raffia
  13. Used napkins
  14. Toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper tubes (cardboard>
  15. Fallen bird's nests
  16. Pine needles/pine straw
  17. Paper coffee filters (used)
  18. Pressed paper egg cartons, torn into small pieces
  19. Sawdust (only from untreated wood)
  20. Brown paper shopping bags, shredded/torn
  21. Brown paper lunch bags, shredded/torn
  22. Leftover peat or coir from seed starting
  23. Coir liners for hanging baskets
  24. Wood chips
  25. Bedding from chickens