Go Green: Composting

Composting recipe for success:

Healthy composting requires 4 elements to work together:


When is compost finished?

Finished compost is a brown, crumbly, earthy-smelling, soil-like material. It takes between six months and one year for a pile to yield a finished product, depending on how much attention it is given. You should not be able to recognize the waste materials that went into the pile. For best use, you can screen it before use for finer compost and put under-composed materials back into the pile to break down further.

 How to use finished compost:

What should I do with grass clippings?

Keep your lawn healthy by leaving grass clippings right on the lawn. If you collect and compost grass clippings, mix them well with a bulky “brown” material to keep them from becoming compacted and smelly.

What should I do with leaves that don’t fit in my bin?

To decrease the volume of leaves, run the lawn mower over them before adding them to the pile, or wet them down and cover with a tarp to keep them from blowing away. Add them to your compost bin throughout the year to cover food waste or to provide “brown” materials for your composting recipe. Leaves and yard waste (not food waste) can easily be composted in a pile without using a bin.

Can I compost through the winter?

Although the process will slow down in cold weather, some bacteria activity will continue. Food waste can still be added as long as it is covered each time with leaves or straw. You can further insulate your pile by covering it with thick, dark plastic.


Should I add…

It is not necessary (and can sometimes cause problems) to add lime to adjust the acidity of a compost pile.

pine needles?
Pine needles have a high acid content and are good to use as mulch on acid-loving plants such as strawberries or rhododendrons. Pine needles take a long time to fully compost. No more than 10% of a pile should be pine needles at one time.

wood ashes?
Use wood ashes cautiously; they have a high alkaline level. However, they do provide potash, a valuable nutrient for your garden. Add ashes to your compost pile in small quantities – no more than a quarter of an inch at a time.

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