To Compost: Not to Compost:
|Wood Ash||Dairy foods (cheese, sour milk, etc.)|
|Animal manures (horse, cow, poultry, rabbit)||Bones|
|Grass and other yard trimmings that are herbicide-free||Meat scraps|
|Leaves, straw, hay|
|Vegetable peelings and scraps|
|Fruit skins/pits and scraps|
|Leftover grains, breads, pastas|
|Weeds that haven't gone to seed|
|Coffee grounds (and paper filters)|
|Natural fiber fabric scraps|
|Spent garden plants (disease-free only)|
Very Basic (Easy and Successful!) Sheet Composting
Pick a site in your yard. Make the area as small or as large as you’d like but make sure it’s an area you can actually handle turning yourself.
Place a layer of newspaper or corrugated cardboard underneath the area you intend to use, if you’d like. This is especially handy if you’re composting on grass or on an area where you’d like to kill whatever is growing there. But it’s not necessary.
Place a layer of leaves, yard trimmings, manure (buy a bag if you have to) or whatever you already have on hand to begin your pile (and to weigh down the newspaper/cardboard, if you’re using it.)
Let this sit for a day or two and then mix it well.
Begin adding your daily compost from the kitchen and your yard trimmings; keep a small shovel or garden fork near your pile and bury the new material each day; just open up a small hole in the pile and drop in your new material and cover it up…it’s that simple. If you have a large amount of material (you’ve just mowed or cleaned out a bed), I suggest mixing it in to just the top layer of your pile to get it breaking down. You can incorporate it further during your regular turnings.
About once a week (or even twice a month) go out to your pile and mix it all up…you can use a shovel or garden fork…whatever works best for you…just make sure you turn it as well as you can manage. Move the material from the bottom up and get the stuff on the middle to the outside. It can be hard work but it’s good for you!
You need a comfrey plant. If you have one, rip off a few big ole’ leaves every now and then when you turn the pile and mix it in. This plant is wonderful to help get that pile cooking!
If you notice the pile drying all the way out and there’s no rain in sight, water the pile every now and then to keep the middle moist.
When you decide you have a big enough pile, quit adding new material and continue mixing until it looks like really rich dirt. If there are some large pieces of plant material left, you can sift those out to begin your new pile. You can now either plant right in this or use it as a wonderful fertilizer for your garden. It can be mixed in the top few inches of dirt in your beds before you plant and/or used as a side dressing throughout the growing season.