Composting is an art, but even if you’re drawing stick-figures with your homemade bin out back, the practice of composting is forgiving. Too much carbon and the process may slow, or too much nitrogen, and the bin will stink, but either way, decomposition will still occur.
Here are some useful tips for maximum efficiency:
- There are two main component nutrients important to building healthy compost: Carbon and Nitrogen. You want a good ratio of much more carbon to your nitrogen (how’s that for scientific?), so if you’re adding a lot of greens (manure, fruits and veggie wastes, hay, lawn clippings) and your compost begins to smell, try adding some golds (straw, rotting wood, wood ash, paper, cardboard) to balance things out. If your compost is not smelly and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, your ratio may be out of wack with too little nitrogen and more greens may be needed.
- Stir your compost! There are three forms of bacteria “decomposers” and each work at different temperatures. If your compost begins to get too hot, the temperature will kill these valuable microbes. Stirring not only oxygenates the humus, but the airflow will also lower temperature and allow your decomposers to get back to work.
- Keep your compost out of direct sun and keep it moist, not wet. Think of a forest floor and try to mimic the conditions of that interior forest environment.
- Good for compost: Yard and food wastes (fruits and veggies, egg-shells), wood ash, coffee grounds, and manures from herbivores // Avoid: meats, dairy, potatoes or manures from carnivores
- Cut your compost into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition.
And remember, composting will lead to near-pH neutrality, so keeping your acids and neutrals is nice, but its not necessary to worry about it.