How To Start Your Own Compost

This episode of Dnews is brought to you by
BASF. Does your garbage can runneth over? Consider
composting! —
Hey guys, Tara here for Dnews – and if you find yourself with more garbage than you know
what to do with, it might be time to consider composting. I live in San Francisco, which is currently
the greenest city in the United States. A while back, the city announced a goal to achieve
zero waste by the year 2020. And by waste, they’re referring to landfill waste. So composting
is crucial here. Every resident gets a free compost bin – but for people outside of San
Francisco, it’s not quite as easy. Some cities charge you for bins, others don’t even offer
them – which sucks. But, that’s okay – because it’s super easy to do yourself – and it’s
great for the environment. So what is compost? In a nutshell, it’s a
collection of organic waste – aka food and plants – that decomposes over several months,
and eventually turns into “humus” – which is an extremely nutrient-rich soil. What’s
special about it, is that in addition to eliminating unnecessary landfill waste – the soil it produces
can also be used as an organic fertilizer for your home garden.
So all composting requires three basic ingredients. You need water, and you need an equal amount
of browns and greens. Browns: tree matter – dead leaves, branches,
twigs, sawdust Greens: typically wet – grass clippings, vegetable
waste, fruit scraps, coffee grounds, etc You don’t wanna put any meat, dairy, or bread
items in your compost, because those will rot and attract pests. Also, it’s recommended you do this outdoors.
If you live in an apartment, or don’t have a backyard- you CAN do it indoors, but it’s
a little bit trickier, and it needs more maintenance. So for the purposes of this video, I will
show you how to do it outside. First things first – you wanna select a container
for your compost, and place it in a grassy, relatively shaded part of your yard. If you’re
handy you can build a container yourself – or you can buy one from any home & garden store
– just make sure it’s the right size. You want it to fit everything you have, but not
be too big – and you want your compost heap to be touching the ground, so make sure whatever
container you use doesn’t have a bottom on it.
You’ll wanna start by laying a few inches of twigs or straw at the bottom, to help aerate
the pile. And then, you can start adding waste. The biggest rule to remember when composting,
is that you want an equal balance of nitrogen, carbon, water, and air. Nitrogen is found
in those greens I listed earlier, and Carbon is found in the browns. So equal amounts green
and brown. You’ll wanna chop up any big chunks of material
before putting them in – and it’s also important to avoid any highly processed foods, since
those’ll take longer to break down. But generally speaking, as long as you maintain that balance
of materials, the compost will naturally begin to attract all of those organisms that eventually
break it down. Once you’ve set everything up and added your
waste, it’s pretty hands off from there. If you’re gonna be adding new scraps regularly,
I suggest burying them in the center of the pile. That will naturally aerate all of it,
which is something you wanna be doing every week anyway.
If you notice your pile is getting too dry, just water it a bit. And if it’s super hot
or rainy outside – it might also help to cover it with something, to maintain the right balance
of moisture. After a few months, your compost should be
ready to use. You’ll know when it turns a nice dark brown color, develops an earthy
smell, and is warm to the touch – which is a product of the microbes living inside. And
at this point, you can go ahead and mix the compost soil into your garden. Just remember
this should be used as an additive and not as the sole source of soil in your garden.
That could turn out very poorly. If you know of any other ways to “go green”
on the cheap, hit us up on Twitter at @Dnews and let us know. Otherwise,
happy composting!

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