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  1. 1. Composting! Discover Composting
  2. 2. What is Composting? • Composting is a method of treating solid waste by using microorganisms ability to break material down. • The broken down material can be reapplied to the environment – “brown gold” is like natural fertilizer that your plants will LOVE!
  3. 3. Why Compost? • Americans generate about 210 million tons of trash each year! • Most of that (about 57%) is dumped in landfills. • Another 27% is recycled – think paper, plastic, glass and metals • What about the rest?
  4. 4. How do you set up a Compost bin? • Good composting creates an ideal environment for microorganisms to break down or cause decay in organic matter – Air – Water – soil (or another source of microorganisms) – Organic waste – newspaper, leaves, grass, kitchen waste, woody shrubs, etc.
  5. 5. How do the Microorganisms work? • Microorganisms consume the organic waste and break it down into simple parts • This creates humus • No, not the stuff you eat. • Humus is the dark brown or black layer that contains the broken down organic matter PLUS inorganic nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
  6. 6. You mean there’s a food-web in there??? • A compost pile is actually a complex organization of living things. • Bacteria and fungi break down the organic matter – single celled protozoa, small worms and mites feed on the bacteria and fungi – predatory invertebrates (millipedes, beetles, etc.) feed on the protozoa, mites and worms.
  7. 7. Choose a Site • Make sure your compost pile is discretely away from your house, but not so far that you don’t use it or help to maintain it! • Other things to consider: – Can your neighbors see your compost pile? – Downwind – even good piles smell at times – Sunlight – too much dries it out, but some will help to warm the pile – Drainage – good drainage is key to keeping the pile from becoming water logged – Base – bare earth is better than concrete
  8. 8. Choose a Structure • Depends on your yard and how active you’re going to be in your composting process • Make sure the structure is ventilated to allow more oxygen to reach your microorganisms
  9. 9. Add Ingredients Kitchen Waste – Fruit and vegetable wastes - peels, skins, seeds, leaves – Egg shells – Coffee grounds (including paper filters), tea bags, used paper napkins – Corncobs - should be shredded to make them break down quickly Yard Waste – Grass clippings - Some grass is okay, but too much will add excess nitrogen to the compost pile and make it smell bad. It may be best to use a mulching lawn mower for your grass. – Leaves – Pine needles – Weeds – Woody materials (branches, twigs) – Straw or hay Other stuff: Newspapers, sawdust & sea weed (just in case you have some around the house)
  10. 10. DO NOT ADD THESE: • Human waste or pet litter - They carry diseases and parasites, as well as cause an unpleasant odor. • Diseased garden plants - They can infect the compost pile and influence the finished product. • Invasive weeds - Spores and seeds of invasive weeds (buttercups, morning glory, quack grass) can survive the decomposition process and spread to your desired plants when you use the finished compost. • Charcoal ashes - They are toxic to the soil microorganisms. • Glossy paper - The inks are toxic to the soil microorganisms. • Pesticide-treated plant material - These are harmful to the compost food-web organisms, and pesticides may survive into the finished compost.
  11. 11. Care and Feeding • Turning the compost frequently allows the microorganisms to get adequate oxygen • Finished compost settles to the bottom because of it’s small size – When is it done? • Finished compost does not smell bad – it smells like earth or peat moss • It is warm – the microorganisms release heat as they break down the organic matter • Gas bubbles are ok – it’s just CO2 being released from the microorganisms
  12. 12. Benefits: • Improve the soil structure in your garden or yard • Increase the activity of soil microbes • Enhance the nutrients of your soil • Improve the chemistry of your soil, particularly the degree of acidity (pH) • Insulate the changes in soil temperature around plants and trees • Improve insect/disease resistance in your garden plants and trees • Decrease the amount of waste you send off to a landfill!!!