The state of Illinois has banned all landscape waste from being deposited into landfills. With this as an issue for residents within our county, we need to be progressive about reusing those materials. Composting is the 4th R or Rot out of the 3Rs of Recycle, Reduce and Reuse that provides the using of the system a valuable material for their gardens and houseplants.
What is composting?
Composting is the deterioration of carbon based materials that can be reused as fertilizer. Composting is the decomposition of kitchen and yard waste by microbes, worms and other organisms. Compost or humus is rich in nutrients and minerals.
What can be used as composting materials?
Kitchen greens such as fruit and vegetable scraps, houseplant cuttings, coffe grounds, rice and pasta, eggshell and tea bags.
Yard browns and greens such as flowers,vegetable, plant trimmings, hedge clippings, grass,leaves, straw or hay, small twigs/chips, dried grass and weeds.
Kitchen Browns and greens such as coffee filters, stale bread, paper napkins and towels, dryer lint, hair, vegetable and fruit scrape and eggshells.
What can’t you compost?
No meat, fish or bones, dairy products,oils or fats, sauces, ashes, pet waste, diseased plants, mature weeds with seeds.
How easy is it to compost and what do we do?
Compost piles should be contained with in a compost bin, chicken coop wire open box, or wooden box with openings for air circulation.
Compost materials should be chopped into smaller pieces to allow for better decomposition and mixed when added. Dry leaves should be added to the top of the pile to prevent the fruit flies and odors from the pile. As materials are added to the pile the pile should be turned.
The nitrogen(green) to carbon(brown) should be 2 to 1 for a complete mixture. Turning the pile and adding water in small amounts will aid in the decomposition process and produce high yields in compost more efficiently.
What do I do in the winter time with the compost bin?
Composting is a four season event.
Spring: In the Spring you can take out the composted materials out of the bin for Spring planting and kick start the compost pile or bin with soil to get the microbes, worms and other organisms in the pile to decompose the waste materials.
Summer: Keep adding to the compost pile and continue to stir the bin making sure to keep dry material on top and the rest of the materials moist like a dampened sponge.
Fall: Harvest the compost bin and take out all of the composted materials. Add this rich compost material to your gardens and till into that soil.
Winter: The compost bin may still be added to all winter long. It does decompose slower but will compost through the winter and in the spring that process will speed up for spring usage.
How long is it before I get usable compost?
Most materials will decompose, if the pile is kept wet enough and turned periodically, within 6 months for winter, or 3 for summer months. All compost piles shall be wet enough similar to a wet sponge.
Fruit flies have been surrounding the pile, how do I get rid of them?
The addition of dry leaves or soil will prevent the fruit flies from invading your compost bin or pile.