Composting At Home
For less than ten minutes a week you can reduce your garbage and create healthy soil for your plants. It's quick, it's easy—it's home composting! Home composting takes little time, space and effort, and it's so rewarding. Give it a try. Your plants (and your pocketbook) will thank you!
Why is Composting Important?
Organic waste material, like yard clippings and food scraps, can be given "new life" through composting. Finished compost is a wonderful soil amendment that improves texture and adds important nutrients into the soil in your garden, creating healthy, thriving plants. From tomatoes to tulips, compost keeps your garden growing strong!
Home composting is also an effective way to reduce waste. Currently, over one-third of the waste generated by Central Contra Costa County communities consists of yard and food waste. If residents compost their yard and kitchen waste, we can go a long way toward satisfying California's challenging goal of a 50% total reduction in waste.
We Can Get You Started!
Our goal is simple - to promote simple techniques that are easy to perform and effective when used. Our program offers instruction on all aspects of home composting, including:
- Outdoor Bin Composting
- Worm Composting (Vermicompost)
We've got the style that suits your schedule:
- Active Composting: With active composting, you actively maintain your system using the “Three-Step Method" described below. This will produce compost in six months or less.
- Passive Composting: With passive composting, you add yard waste and food scraps to your bin or pile and leave it alone to slowly decompose. It's easy to do, but takes a year or longer to generate compost.
FREE Instructional Workshops
Our "Home Composting for Busy People!" workshops can teach you everything you need to know to get started. Find a workshop in your area today! http://www.wastediversion.org/app_pages/view/66
The Three-Step Method
Step 1: Gather Your Yard and Kitchen Waste
Yard waste is either "green" (fresh and moist), or "brown" (old and dry). Green waste is high in nitrogen while brown waste is high in carbon. Both are essential ingredients of compost. Examples of green waste include new grass clippings and leaf trimmings. Brown waste includes dried leaves, straw and chopped up twigs.
In addition to yard waste, you can also compost food waste such as fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells. NEVER compost meats, dairy products, or anything that can spoil. Other items to avoid include dog/cat feces and large amounts of paper or ash. Also avoid diseased material or large amounts of weeds, especially if they have flowered and gone to seed!
Step 2: Start Your Compost System
Once you have gathered your green and brown waste, you can combine both to build your compost system. Work with whatever you have available. Mix both materials into your bin and add water as you mix. You may also add some finished compost topsoil. This adds the decomposers that you want to put to work in your new system.
Step 3: Maintain Your System
Maintaining your compost system is the key to faster, efficient decomposition and it doesn't take a lot of work. Just follow these simple steps:
- Turn your pile once every 10-14 days to produce compost in a 3-6 month period. You can also mix and agitate the green waste in your bin once a week.
- Add moisture if the compost is dry or add dry material if it is too wet. Your pile should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge.
- Bury food waste in your pile to mask odors that might attract flies or rodents.
- Try to grind or cut up materials before adding them to your system. They will break down much faster!
- Continue to add fresh yard waste until the material in your bin has decomposed and resembles “finished” compost—a dark, dirt-like material. When you reach this point, stop adding waste and wait a month or so to let all the material more completely decompose.
Earthworms, springtails, sow bugs, ground beetles, mites—these are creatures you may not like to hear about, but in fact, these little bugs are the key to composting! With help from fungi, they break your waste down into compost. However, most of the work is done by organisms you can’t see, primarily air-breathing (aerobic) bacteria. You know the bacteria are doing their job when your compost pile feels warm (even hot!) and may give off steam during the colder months.