Let it Rot (such a great title) is close at hand on a nearby bookshelf in my office. It covers the soup to nuts from browns to greens - code for types of plant materials used in the pile. Browns are the carbon materials used which should be 2/3s in volume to the greens or nitrogen materials, which make up the remaining 1/3.
I compost for one reason - it doesn't make sense not to compost. Gardeners and anyone with a patch of grass or leaves from trees can join in the compost fun. It's free and only takes as much time as emptying the weekly garbage. The stats say it reduces yard waste anywhere between 50 and 75 percent, I like that too.
Our small indoor compost container holds food scraps (coffee grounds, eggshells, etc.) that end up in the outside green compost bin. A friend of mine does indoor vermicomposting and I keep thinking about starting one too, looks easier than caring for gold fish.
|My Mom's Alley Compost Hole - Emptied|
Browns: newspaper and cardboard (not shiny), toilet and paper towel rolls, coffee filters, dried or dead (disease-free) foliage, dry leaves, non-shiny egg cartons, woody branches and twigs less than 1/4" in diameter, mowed straw.
Greens: chemical-free grass clippings (or leave on the lawn when mowing), vegetable fruit peels and cores (okay with seeds), and all non-meat food scraps, coffee grounds, human or pet hair, manure from herbivore eating animals only (chickens, cow, sheep and rabbits), fresh cut foliage from plants or vegetation.
Avoid: plants treated with pesticides/herbicides, resinous cuttings from junipers, spruce, pine, bones, meat, dairy or fat of any kind. Only use high tannin leaves (oak, cottonwood) in small amounts.
Mix: layer or mix the materials until it is at least three feet high. Water as you mix, to moisten all the materials. Keep the pile as wet as a wrung out sponge and turn often. It will compress quickly (smaller than 3' high), so if adding more materials, only do this for so long, then stop and let it finish composting. Kitchen scraps can be added to the middle of the pile since they break down quickly.
If left mostly unattended, once built it will eventually break down (months - year or more). Remember..."compost happens," another great phrase.
Tips: if it smells it might be too wet or have too many greens (nitrogen), add some browns. If the pile isn't working/composting add water, turn, toss in a handful of soil. Keep animals away by burying any food scraps. If using a hole or above ground pile, be sure to cover with a plastic tarp to avoid drying out. Materials cut or chopped in to smaller pieces compost better than large chunky items.
Time Frame: if turned regularly and kept wrung out moist it will be between two-three months during warm months. It slows way down fall to winter. Temperatures between 120-130 are ideal, over 160 may kill beneficial microbes.
All Done: you've successfully made the best compost known to man. Think homemade quality of an apple pie versus store bought. The soil should be dark brown, no visible bits or pieces and about half the size you started with. Use it to top dress actively growing plants, or sell handfuls for $100 each... kidding. But you can share with people you really like!
Compost Classes - Denver Urban Gardens partnering with City of Denver
Boulder County - Compost Workshops
City of Denver Mulch Giveaway and Compost Sale May 5, 2018