2011-04-28 / Letters to the Editor

Help accelerate decomposition process

Composting happens naturally but by following these directions you can help accelerate the natural decomposition process to produce healthy soil and keep materials out of the landfill.

1. Obtain a bin or set aside an area in your yard that is about one cubic yard. Size is important to maintain the proper temperature. Piles that are too small cannot hold enough heat for effective microbial activity and piles too large do not allow enough air to reach microbes in the center of the pile.

2. Mix two parts brown (leaves, small twigs, straw) with one part green (grass clippings, kitchen scraps). This is a good mix of carbon to nitrogen.

3. Chop or break up any twigs and large pieces of fruit and vegetable waste. Materials will break down more quickly with increased surface area.

4. Keep the pile moist. Water the compost to keep it moist like a wrung out sponge.

5. Turn the pile frequently. Compost needs air. Turning will help it break down and will prevent it from smelling bad.

6. When it is ready, the compost should look and smell like rich soil. Use this “gardener’s gold” to feed your garden, flowers, potted plants and lawn. You will be pleased with the results.

What should go into the compost pile: any fruit or vegetable matter such as kitchen scraps, small twigs, grass clippings, leaves, straw, etc.

What should not go into the compost pile: bones, meat, eggs (egg shells are OK), cheese and other dairy products or oils should be thrown in the garbage. Excrement from dogs and cats should not be added.

Compost will be odor free if you do not overload the system. Always bury the vegetable matter by pulling aside some of the bedding, dumping the waste and then cover it with the bedding again. Bury successive loads in different locations in the pile. Healthy compost should smell like rich soil. If the compost pile is smelly, that is a sign that it needs more air. Aerate the pile by regular turning. The small red worms that form in a compost pile can process two to three pounds of vegetable matter a week. That is two to three pounds a week that will not make its way to the landfill.

Mike Testa

Jamestown Recycling


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