These add nitrogen — a crucial element for microbial growth. Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. Of course composting takes patience — you might run into unexpected things. A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad. There are many different ways to make a compost pile; we have provided the following for general reference. When you're layering, you want the dry browns on the bottom with the wet greens on the top. Shutterstock / Anna Hoychuk. Diggs says he loves smelling finished compost,"You know, it just smells so ... Oh, gosh. "If one hundred percent of it is water, then nothing is going on. Backyard Composting hide caption. Jeffrey Neal, the head of the Loop Closing composting business in Washington, D.C., is a big fan of worms. Composting is nature’s own waste management process that nutrients are recycled back into an ecosystem. Subscribe to our newsletter. I Started Composting at Home—Here’s What Happened. "Browns" are more carbon rich — think egg cartons, newspapers, dried leaves, and pine needles. Helpful tools include pitchforks, square-point shovels or machetes, and water hoses with a spray head. Or you can go bigger. Water occasionally, or let rain do the job. Keep compost moist. Regular mixing or turning of the compost and some water will help maintain the compost. Regular mixing or turning of the compost and some water will help maintain the compost. Pit composting, step by step: In spring, dig the first pit, maybe four by four feet, and two feet deep, in a spot where there is room for two similar pits alongside it. Mixing the greens and browns together regularly helps increase the pile’s heat, which speeds up the composting process. It doesn't matter if you're in a suburban home or in a tiny apartment. The microorganisms can't work. Cooked food, oily things, buttery things and bones. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter. You can also buy a bin online or Digg says, "You could just create the pile naked!" How long do you have to wait for decomposition? Or sometimes a sour smell. (Of course, in the age of the coronavirus, make sure your community garden is open, and practice social distancing.). Do you attract animals to your pile? Choosing a Home Composting Style that’s Right for You. An official website of the United States government. You can buy “tumbler” compost bins that you turn with a handle, making mixing easier. And the feel! We'd love to hear from you. Helpful tools include pitchforks, square-point shovels or machetes, and water hoses with a spray head. One writer breaks the process … "If it's hot, you could get there in two months pretty easy, " Diggs says, "If it's cold made, you could be there in six months. Pit composting, step by step: In spring, dig the first pit, maybe four by four feet, and two feet deep, in a spot where there is room for two similar pits alongside it. Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin. To keep things moving, you'll want to turn or rotate the pile, perhaps with a stick or spade. If you want to break down your food scraps in your own apartment, there are still options. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Using this method – the easiest way to compost at home – it can take close to a year for your first round of compost to decompose. How to Compost at Home. Before you start piling on, recognize that there are two types of composting: cold and hot. Just as in a fire you need to structure the wood to get the air going, in compost you have to do a similar thing, adding spaces to give oxygen to those heroic microbes. Start with fruits and veggies — the skin of a sweet potato, the top of your strawberry. There are many different ways to make a compost pile; we have provided the following for general reference. If you're one of the millions of Americans now stuck at home because of the coronavirus, it might feel like you're cooking more than you've ever cooked in your entire life. Now that you’re ready to get started, you’ll … We don't want you to give up so here are some more resources below. That will make sure microorganisms can do their job. Microorganisms are the true heroes of this process, they do the heavy lifting of decomposition. "There are times when I made [my worm box] an ottoman so I could relax with my feet up on them! The good news? Diggs says the browns are key because they allow water to flow, and air to flow, something called aeration. When you're composting, your kitchen scraps should be part of a deliberate layering process to speed up decomposition.There's a method for … You can buy “tumbler” compost bins that you turn with … Water - Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development. Also tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, old flowers — even human hair! "It doesn't have to be, you know, all the things that you find online that are really cute little ceramic containers," says Diggs. When you're composting, your kitchen scraps should be part of a deliberate layering process to speed up decomposition. You can also put a little bit of browns on the very top to keep away flies and odors. As for the ratio of "browns" to "greens," you often hear three or four parts of browns to one part greens. Jacqueline Weiss Updated: May. A helpful analogy is to think of tending to your compost like tending a fire. In the world of composting you're inevitably gonna hear about "the greens and browns" — the two main ingredients for your mix. If it smells bad, it probably means it's not decomposing — maybe your pile might be too wet or you might need to readjust your ratios of greens and browns. Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs*, Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)*, Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides. For example, it has suggestions of what to do if the pile has insects or is too wet. Sometimes two to one. Julia Simon for NPR If you have a good life hack, leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823 or email us at LifeKit@npr.org. You can use it like a piece of furniture. We'll teach you how to turn your food waste into beautiful earthy compost in five simple steps. Add brown and green materials as they are collected, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded. 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