How to Compost – Starting Your First Compost Stack


how to compost

If you have no experience with how to compost, you may be wondering what compost is. Many people jump in head-first without really knowing what it is. Composting, it turns out, is not as simple as putting all that organic material that has been collected into a bin and throwing that into the garbage bin. Many of us have been fortunate enough not to have the proper space for composting chez moi in our yards. Most cities with an excess of organic waste have limited composting drop-off and pick-up programs in place but composting and other composting worksheets have not been as readily available as usual in big cities like New York, despite an abundance of open landfills.

Cities Where It’s Ban

A person posing for the camera

Many municipalities, including New York City, ban the practice altogether because of the waste composting “enhance” that leaches into surrounding lakes, streams, and groundwater. The ban imposed by the state Environmental Conservation Department under Governor David A. Paterson in 2021 is in effect until the federal government lifts it. But the ban hasn’t stopped local governments from putting in place their composting programs. So how do we compost?

Have An Outdoor Compost Pile

For starters, you need to have an outdoor compost pile. Unless you live on a large farm where you might have the space for a greenhouse, an outdoor compost pile will be your best option. You should use an outdoor compost pile instead of an indoor one because the outdoor banks are more relaxed, and they allow the decomposition of organic waste products to happen more slowly. Your compost pile should be kept out of the sun, away from all the drafts and temperatures between freezing and boiling.

Line Your Outside Compost Bin

Next, you need to line your outside compost bin with some loosely packed shredded paper towels. This should serve two purposes. First, the paper towels will absorb moisture from the soil around your compost bin and prevent the ground from rotting. Secondly, the paper towels will prevent any odors or pollutants from seeping into the compost bin and the waste product as it decomposes. You can easily spot any presence of these pollutants by picking them up with your hand and smelling them, although this process won’t work with certain types of waste products.

Lining With Loosely Packed Paper Towels

After you have your outdoor compost bin, you need to line it with a layer of loosely packed paper towels. This paper towel layer will trap air between the soil layers so that moisture cannot freely circulate and damage the compost material. Ideally, the coating should be about two inches deep, although that will depend on how much waste you’re currently hauling out of your community garden. If you have a lot of food scraps lying around from your food preparation activities, however, you may opt for a deeper layer which would be another layer of newspaper.

Add Several Pounds Of Dry Straw

To start decomposing your organic waste, you need to add several pounds of dry straw, browns (about a pound each), and wood chips to your compost pile. However, if you already have a compost pile in your backyard, all you need to do is add a pound of organic material and browns and wood chips to the bank. You must use dry straws, which have a shorter shelf life. Also, don’t forget to rinse your stems and blades from time to ensure that no pesticides or herbicides have been introduced to the decomposers or the waste themselves.

Let It Sit For About Six To Eight Weeks

Once you have added the above elements to your compost pile, you can let it sit for about six to eight weeks to begin the decomposition process. You must check the progress of your compost pile at least once a week and add water if necessary. Using a drip tray underneath the bin or in the ground allows you to monitor the compost pile’s progress better. Another option for tracking the compost pile’s progress is to add water only, leaving the compost heap out and about. Some people like to add compost tea into their compost piles as well, which works well as a natural preservative; however, this process should be done with care and should be avoided during the winter months as the moisture in the compost pile can freeze and destroy any seeds you may have had.

In Conclusion

After about six to eight weeks, you will need to take your compost bin outside and move it to an area where the sunlight can reach it. If you live in a place where the weather changes frequently, you will need to go through the process of cold composting. This process involves putting the pile in an open pit, close to a small fire (a few sticks resting on a log works excellent). You can then stack the containers one on top of the other, covering the top of the container with the remains of the cold composting process, which includes all of the dead leaves, stems, and blades.

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