Do you use a backyard composter?
There are many benefits of composting. Composting helps sandy soil retain moisture and prevents drought. Compost can be used to break up clay or sandy soils and it adds nutrients to all soils. Compost also improves drainage and reduces soil erosion, enhances plant colour and reduces the amount of waste set out on the curb by 40%!
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding composting:
How do I begin composting?
Place a 4" to 6" bottom layer of coarse material such as dead plant stalks and small branches in your composter. Alternate layers of yard waste and kitchen waste in 4" to 6" increments. Top off the compost pile with 1" of soil or finished waste.
Make sure your composter is on ground level in the sun. The warmer the material, the faster the process. If you only have shady areas, it will still work, just not as quickly. The unit should be in contact with the earth, rather than on patio stones or paved areas to allow organisms to work into the pile and speed up the composting process. Place the unit approximately 8" to 12" away from fences, decks or buildings to discourage animals. Composting is an excellent soil enhancer; it can be used as an additive to existing soil. Ensure that the soil and compost are mixed in equal parts (50/50).
- Chop materials into small pieces (the smaller the better)
- Put materials in layers - alternate 'browns' (dry leaves, straw, wood chips) and 'greens' (kitchen scraps, grass clippings)
- Add water if necessary - the compost needs to be slightly damp (like a wrung out sponge)
- During Spring and Summer, turn the pile with a pitchfork, shovel or compost turner
What can I put in my compost?
- Leaves and grass clippings
- Plants and weeds
- Used potting soil
- Fruit scraps and vegetable peels
- Crushed egg shells
- Coffee grounds with filters and tea bags
- Paper (shredded, not glossy)
- Pet waste
- Meat, fish and bones
- Dairy products
- Fats or oils
How long does composting take?
Composting typically takes anywhere from two months to two years. The timeline is dependent on the volume of organics being composted, the amount of water and aeration. To help speed up the process, turn your compost frequently.
Can I compost in the winter?
Yes! Continue to add materials to the compost throughout the winter. In the colder months the decomposition process will slow down a little but will continue as usual when it warms back up.
How do I use my compost when it is ready?
You can use compost as mulch around plants and trees. This will help retain moisture and smother weeds. Compost can also be used in your lawn or garden. Make sure to dig compost into the earth before planting flowers and vegetables.
Finished compost is dark and crumbly in texture and will have a pleasant earth-like smell. If you follow the instructions that came with your unit, you could have results in as little as 3 to 6 months. To remove the compost, scoop it through the trap door on your unit. Pick or screen out any lumps or bits of uncomposted material and put them back in the composter.
Where to can I purchase a backyard composter?
Earth Machine composters can be purchased for $45 at the Greater Napanee Municipal Administration Centre located at 99-A Advance Avenue. Backyard composters can also be purchased from local hardware stores.