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To get the best compost: a balance of “green” and items. The ideal ratio is
To
get
the
best
compost:
a
balance
of
“green”
and
items.
The
ideal
ratio
is part “brown” pile Add (from
about
25
parts
browns
to
one
greens.
Too
much
carbon
browns)
will
cause
the
to
break
down
too
slowly,
while
too
much
nitrogen
(from
greens)
can
cause
odour.
IN
MINUTES
News and events — visually
SIZE MATTERS
One of the best times to start your
compost bin is in the fall. A key
component of making compost is
brown material, and dried leaves are
abundant in autumn.
WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE A COMPOSTER?
Shredded organic materials
heat up rapidly, decompose quickly
and produce a uniform compost.
The decomposition rate increases
with the size of the composting
materials. If you want the pile to
decay faster, chop up large fibrous
materials. You can add new
materials on an ongoing basis to an
already established pile.
Here’s the
dirt on
compost
1
Microbes will
start eating the
greens first.
GREENS
7
Bright-red worms known as
brandling worms help to aerate
the compost as they travel to the
top of the bin to get at the freshly
added material.
2
Kitchen refuse: Almost everything that
cycles through your kitchen such as vegetable
peelings, tea bags, any fruit scraps (melon rinds,
apple cores, banana peels), co ee grounds and
filter paper .
Energy produced by
decomposition increases the
temperature in the bin,
generating even more microbes.
Mould starts to appear.
Meat products, dairy products, and high-fat
6
Temperature inside the bin
starts to cool down and this is
when fungi starts to work on the
browns along with creatures
such as slugs, snails, beetles
and millipedes.
foods such as salad dressings and peanut butter
will decompose eventually, but will smell bad and
attract pests.
Eggshells decompose slowly, so they should be
crushed.
3
BUILDING A COMPOST PILE
YOUR FIRST DAY:
Many helpful insects such as
worms, woodlice, fruit flies, ants
and other insects further break
down the plant material.
Manure: Manure for composting can come
from bats, sheep, ducks, pigs, goats, cows,
pigeons, and any other vegetarian animal.
It contains large amounts of both nitrogen
and beneficial microbes. Avoid manure from
carnivores, as it can contain dangerous
pathogens.
Add green and brown materials — egg shells, vegetable
peelings, broken up cardboard, grass cuttings, etc.
5
4
AFTER A COUPLE WEEKS:
Will look a bit moist, air-pockets will let it breathe
The insects and
organisms will have
broken down the greens
after a few months,
leaving only browns.
BROWNS
AT ABOUT 2 MONTHS:
Insects need air, so aerating
your compost is a good idea.
Simply push a garden fork or
broom handle deep into the
bin to create air pockets.
Small clumps of green material are still visible, brown
items starting to decompose and looking quite damp;
fruit flies, slugs and worms may also be present
Fibres: Dryer lint, cardboard/paper products
Plant prunings: Dry leaves, twigs and hedge
clippings, straw & hay
Ashes: From wood, paper or lumpwood charcoal
AFTER 6 MONTHS:
Black and crumbly material, no smell, some woody
brown material and eggshells still visible, some worms
and bugs left, but most creatures will have moved on to
find fresher food
TEMPERATURE
MATTERS
IS IT READY?
Compost that is ready
to use will be:
If the pile becomes too dry, the
decay process will slow down.
Organic waste needs water to
decompose. Keep the pile as
moist as a wrung-out sponge. In
an overly wet pile, water replaces
the air, slowing decomposition.
After nine to 12 months, your
kitchen and garden waste will
be successfully transformed
into healthy, natural compost.
• dark brown in colour
• have a spongy texture
• smell earthy.
Heat indicates the activity of the
decomposition process. Feel the
compost pile — if it’s warm or hot,
everything is fine. If it’s the same
temperature as the outside air, the
microbial activity has slowed down
and you ned to add more nitrogen
(green) materials such as grass
clippings, kitchen wate, or manure.
SUSAN BATSFORD, GRAPHICS EDITOR, TWITTER @SBATS1; QMI AGENCY