First off, what is compost? Compost is a mix of organic materials that are undergoing decomposition. Most yard waste and food scraps are biodegradable, and composting keeps that stuff out of the landfill! Another good thing about compost is that it enriches the soil and makes a good fertilizer.
What can be composted?
Leaves, twigs, small branches, bark, straw, grass clippings, paper, various livestock manures, fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, and coffee grounds.
The materials don’t have to be in a bin, but it will better contain the materials if you do. You can use something simple like chicken wire or a plastic bin from the store.
How do I compost?
First, assemble your ingredients. Have a soil base before you start adding everything. Your carbon ingredients should include things like: leaves, bark, woodchips, twigs, and paper. About 50-75% of the pile should be carbons. The nitrogen ingredients include grass, fruits and veggies, coffee grounds, and egg shells. The nitrogens should be 25-50% of the pile.
Water: The pile needs to be kept damp, not soaking. If you pick up a handful and squeeze it tightly, a few drops of water should come out.
Air: Make sure you turn or fluff the pile often with a pitchfork or garden spade so that air can move easily through the pile. This will make sure it decomposes more quickly and also keeps it from smelling bad.
How do I build the pile?
Pick a location out of the way, but still convenient so you can add kitchen scraps. Use a digging fork to ‘turn’ the soil at the bottom and then add a layer of carbons. Then add a layer of nitrogens, and alternate. My source says that the pile should be a minimum of 3 feet by height, width, and length and a maximum of 5 feet in those measurements. As you add layers, use a hose to spray every few layers to make sure it’s moist all the way through.
Remember to turn the pile. You don’thaveto. But it does help to speed things up!
Depending on several factors (size, contents, moisture), the compost can be finished between 3 and 12 months.
(Source: Knoxville Public Services)