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Sustainable Tips — Compost Bin

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Common Compost Questions & How To Compost

Some of your common composting questions, answered here!

A quick how-to to start your own outdoor compost pile. Video & steps listed below

Remember - your compost bin is only a receptacle. Empty out your scraps every few days or every week in your outdoor compost pile OR your green waste bin to be collected on garbage day! 

1. How often should I replace my filter?

    • Everyone composts different things & at different rates. It's recommended that you change your filter every 4-6 months for proper odor control, and that you empty out your bin every two days to once a week (again depending on how much compost you put in your bin and what you compost).

 

2. Is it normal for larvae, worms, or maggots to be living in my compost filter? 

    • Maggots & fruit flies appear when compost is too moist, and doesn't have enough dry material. It is recommended to empty your compost bin out more than once a week (every two days or so if there's a lot of moist compost). You can also start composting newspaper to add more dry material to your compost. 

    • Maggots and bugs are part of the natural decomposing process, but let's admit, no one wants that in their kitchen! 

    • We recommend replacing your filter if this happens and making sure you empty out your bin more often.

 

3. My filter is growing mold? Is this normal?

    • This seems to happen when you have too much moisture in your bin. Mold is a natural part of the decomposing process as well, since, well, basically you have soiled trash and food all clumped together! It's good to add more brown compost to this, as you may have too much green in a tight closed space. 

    • It is recommended that you replace your filter if you have a thick layer of mold growing on your filter. If this is a continuing issue, you may need to adjust what you compost and how often you empty your bin.

    • Having your compost piled high in the bin so it touches the filter, is not recommended, and may aid in this issue as well.

 

4. What is the difference between green/wet (high nitrogen) and brown/dry (high carbon) compost?

Green/wet composting materials consist of: 

      • Fruit & Vegetable Peelings: potato peelings, apple cores, banana peels, bite sized pieces of uncooked vegetables, strawberry tops. Avoid using vegetables cooked in oils - oils slow down decomposition process and may attract rodents or other animals in your outdoor pile

      • Coffee grounds - good source of nitrogen!

      • Plants & Plant Cuttings: most plants and their cuttings (including annual weeds) flowers, herbs

      • Egg Shells

      • Tea Bags/tea leaves

      • Plate scraping (excluding meats & bones if using in an outdoor pile)

      • Pulp leftover from juicing 

Brown/dry composting materials consist of:

      • Dry leaves, dried grass clippings

      • Wood shavings, saw dust

      • Nuts & shells (excluding walnuts)

      • Shredded egg cartons (the ones made of paper)

      • Shredded newspaper, brown bags & tissue paper

      • Twigs

      • Hay

      • Peanut shells

For the best compost, it's good to do a 50/50 mix of both green and dry materials. 

Avoid composting :

  • Colored paper that has lots of dyes i.e. magazines, catalogs, printed cards (toxins in the ink)

  • Animal droppings

    • Lime - high alkaline - pH can kill composting action

    • Meat, fat, grease, oils, bones if putting in an outdoor pile - do not break down, can coat materials & attract pests

    • Non-biodegradable materials

    • Toxic materials 

    • Feminine hygienic products 

    • Diseased plants

    • Walnuts - contains a natural compound that is toxic to some plants - again if putting in an outside compost pile

     40+ Things You Can Compost

    5. How do i start my outdoor compost pile?

      • Start on bare earth, or add a few scoops of garden soil. Starting on bare earth allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost

      • Lay twigs, or hay a few inches deep to aid in drainage & also aerate the pile

      • Add compost materials to the layers switching off between the wet and dry. 

      • Add manure or any nitrogen source (buckwheat, grass clippings, wheat grass) this activates the compost and helps speeds up the process

      • Keep compost moist - water every so often, or let the rain naturally do its part!

      • Cover with anything you have like wood, plastic sheeting, carpet scraps. This will help retain moisture and heat, which are two essentials for composting. Covering also helps prevent from getting too wet from being over watered by the rain - compost should be moist but not soaked.

      • Turn every few weeks with a pitchfork or a shovel. This helps aerate the pile and the oxygen is a must for the composting process to work. You can go ahead and skip this step if you have a supply of coarse materials such as straw. 

    Once your compost pile is established, it's best to add new materials in by mixing them in instead of layering them. Mixing or turning the pile is essential to aerating the materials and speeding up the process to completion. 

    Best to have a ratio of 50/50 of wet and dry (carbon and nitrogen). Too much nitrogen can result in smelly, dense, and slow composting. When in doubt, add more carbon.

    Some common mistakes:

    • Keep things moist - don't forget you have a natural, active process happening in your yard or space, so it's key to check your pile regularly, especially during hot months .

    • Don't just depend on one material - different textures and nutrients is a beautiful thing! the disintegration of all these items create a plentiful diet for your plants that will also aid in disease and pest resistance. Stir often and let natural forces like water, air, heat, and biodegradable matter do it's work fast!

    • Don't get stressed or overwhelmed. It's not too difficult, just take a leap and jump in, even if you have no idea how it's going to turn out - you'll figure out what works and what doesn't. 

     

    6. How is composting beneficial?

      • It recycles kitchen and yard waste : households throw out on average 20% of food waste or scraps. Composting can help divert at least 30% of waste away from the garbage.

      • It conditions your soil : composting adds beneficial nutrients to your plants and helps retain the moisture.

      • Adds beneficial organisms to the soil : microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil, and break down organic material for plant use and assists in warding off diseases.

      • Good for the environment : Offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers. 

      • Reduces landfill waste: one-third of landfill waste is made up of compostable materials. Most landfills in America are quickly filling up, with many of them having already been closed down. 

     

     Get started on your compost pile and get compostin'!

    Choose from a variety of our Ecofriendly Bins 

    Looks great on your counter top and have odor preventing filters

    Swoop some of our Compostable Compost Bags - They decompose in your pile -ASTM D6400 compliant!

     Compost Bins Do's & Don'ts - Natural Home Brands

     Some other blog posts you might enjoy:

    40+ Things You Can Compost

    Eliminating Food Waste With The Go Green Save Green Program

    Why Is Composting So Important?

    Recycle Numbers On The Bottom Of Plastics