Click here for a printable flyer on composting
Science of Composting
Do's and Don'ts of Composting
Building the Pile
How to Buy or Build Your Own Structure
Composting is a controlled process of decomposition of organic
material. Naturally occurring soil organisms recycle nitrogen, potash,
phosphorus, and other plant nutrients as they convert the material into
humus. Composting is a convenient and cost-effective way to handle
your organic waste and help the environment.
to use compost
When the composted materials look like rich, brown soil, it is ready to
use. Apply one half to three inches of finished compost and mix it in with
the top four inches of the soil. Compost can also be applied as a top
dressing in the garden throughout the summer. It is excellent for
reseeding lawns, and can be spread one-quarter inch deep over the entire
lawn to rejuvenate the turf. To make potting soil, mix equal parts
compost, sand, and loam.
Science of Composting
Successful composting involves balancing nitrogen and carbon-based
materials (brown leaves and woody materials and green grass or food waste)
with water and oxygen.
The carbon component (the brown stuff: dead leaves, woody materials and
dried brown grass) should constitute 75% of the compost pile.
The remaining 25% should be the nitrogen-rich component (the green stuff:
fresh grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps).
The organisms that make compost require a warm, moist environment. The
pile should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge, but not dripping wet.
Let rain replace moisture, and add water during dry spells.
A cover helps retain moisture in hot weather.
Compost critters need oxygen, just as we do.
Lack of oxygen will slow down the composting process and cause
Yard Trimmings (old plants,
wilted flowers, small prunings)
Vegetable & Fruit Scraps
Shredded Paper (low grade
paper not acceptable for recycling)
|Meat, Fish, and Poultry (including bones)
Fats, Grease, and Oils
Treated Wood (or any materials containing strong preservatives or toxins)
Ashes and charcoal
Non-organics (plastic, metal, glass, etc...)
Building The Pile
There are as many different ways to make compost as there are people who
do it. The following guidelines will get you started, but soon your own
experience will help you tailor a method that best fits your needs.
Build or purchase a compost bin. Call the Recycling Office at
389-5194 to receive copies of bin plans or information on
discounted bin sales. Set the bin up in a convenient area with good
Start with a layer of woody, bulky material to allow air passage in
the base of the pile. Add alternating layers of “brown” and
“green” materials at a ratio of 4:1, with a shovelful of soil on top
of each layer. Shredding leaves and trimmings will shorten the composting
time. Be sure to bury chopped food scraps in the center of the pile. Add
water to keep pile as damp as a wrung out sponge.
Turn the pile. Keep oxygen available to the compost critters by
turning the pile with a hoe or compost turning tool each time you add
material. A complete turning of the pile, so the top becomes the bottom,
every few months should result in finished compost in 6
months to a year. More frequent turning will shorten the composting
If the pile is not composting it may be too dry or have too much woody
material. Moisten until slightly damp. Add fresh green material and turn.
If the pile smells rotten and attracts flies it may be too wet or have
non-compostables present. Turn and add dry material. Remove any meat or
grease, large food scraps, etc. and then turn.
the pile smells like ammonia then there is too much green material. Turn
and add dry or woody material. If rodents get into the pile, rodent proof
by having holes less than 1/4 inch.
bins and buckets can help you fit your compost into small spaces. Choose a
structure that is the right size, style, cost and effort level for you.
Remember to use recycled materials or containers whenever possible.
Do-it-yourself bin building instructions are available by calling the
Rotline at 389.5194.
are easy and fairly inexpensive to build, and help to keep your yard waste
compost pile tidy. Secure the hoop with hooks or twists of wire. To speed
composting, undo the hoop, set it up next to the pile, and turn the pile
back into the cage in its new location.
hold yard waste compost, and when made rodent proof, work well for food
wastes. Build with recycled wood, wire or other materials for an
inexpensive and attractive structure. Many styles are commercially
are the apartment-dweller’s
answer to composting food wastes indoors or out. Compact 5 gallon buckets
sealable lids can be obtained free from many grocery stores and
restaurants. Stir the compost-soil mixture to aerate it once or twice a
week, or when adding new
Check out the links below to learn how to build
your own compost bin.
The LSU Ag. Center has several
very good composting publications available.
CLICK HERE for additional information about these publications.
If you are looking for a compost bin to buy this site sells more
varieties of different types and brands of compost bins than we have found
Here is an interesting site on composting with an interactive message
board and lots of information on composting: