Selecting Materials for the garden Composting Bin
At this point you have committed to making compost, and for this article we will assume have purchased a garden composting bin that is stationary. However the materials and layering methods will be the same for a compost bins tumbler.You have unpacked it from the box and located just the right place where it can get some sun but not so much that it won't keep moisture. The bottom should be flat enough to allow corners to sit close enough on the surface whether ground or concrete to keep out animals such as mice. It should be located far enough from the house that you don't worry if it gets stinky yet close enough to empty household composting materials conveniently. Now you are ready to begin the process of making compost.
One way to begin is to use the soil removed in leveling the spot as starter/accelerator. Put a shovelfull or so of the earth in the bottom of the composter as the first layer. Moisten like if you were using a sprinkler can on potted plants. Its been described as the moisture level of a wrung out sponge. Next add material considered to be brown. You need about 3 times as much brown in the mix as green(by volume). This brown layer will be thicker than the green layer to be added next.This could be due to greens in general having more water as a main component as oposed to brown items that are dry such as cardboard or cornstalks. A list is given later. Then add green material. Again just enough moisture to allow maximum decomposition. A tip for quicker decomposition is make materials into small pieces. Continue alternating layers until you run out of materials. From now on you will add what you have as you have it. With this setup you should turn or mix contents using the shovel or pitchfork or compost aerator tool as often as once per week or as seldom as never. Another tip for adding scraps is to mix them under a bit even if you dont turn the batch. Its tough to mess up compost. Its just easy to make better compost depending on how much effort you want to put into it. Don't worry, any and all combinations of materials will eventually make nice rich soil enhancement, in other words it will rot down into what looks like earth itself.
It is amazing isn't it? That composting can actually be as simple as layering materials to begin and then mixing later each time as waste is added. Most of the composters have vented sides to allow maximum air flow across the batch. Therefore the mixing is to keep the batch cooking. It helps keep some finished compost at the bottom to be removed for use if you are in a hurry for smaller amounts such as you would use for potted plants or container gardens. Beware that weeds may not be fully killed if the batch was not hot enough, therefore the seeds may emerge in your planters. It is also a good idea to remove fresh compost from the composter into a pile where it can season. You can have useable compost in 2 weeks but in general it takes at least a month and the best is allowed to cure two to three months.
Carbon rich Brown materials:
hay and straw
corn stalks or cobs
shredded non glossy news and other paper goods
vacuum and dryer lint
woodchips (not walnut)
Nitrogen rich Green materials:
fresh cut grass
vegetable and fruit leftovers and scraps/peels
cattle, horse, chicken, goat, rabbit manure (no hog)
coffe and tea grounds and filters/bags
bread and grains
seaweed or algae
blood,cottonseed,or alfalfa meal
DO NOT USE :
coal/charcoal from BBQ
chemically treated wood or plants
fatty foods like meat and fish or dairy
waxy plants such as rhododendrons
Brown and green ingredients in the correct combinations placed into the composter will decompose into soil enhancement sometimes referred to as black gold because of the rich quality home made compost adds to soil.