The Q&A Archives: Compost

Question: I am a beginning gardener and have seen shows on HGTV that mention making your own compost for your vegetable garden. I always miss the part when they tell you how to do it. So how do I make my own compost? What materials do I use? Thanks!

Answer: I like to tell beginning composters that you don't need a calculator to compost. Everything rots eventually! However, the process does work much faster if you mix about an equal volume of green and brown materials and keep it uniformly moist. Leaves are terrific carbon sources. Here are some green, or nitrogen, sources in addition to kitchen scraps to put into your compost pile: fresh garden and landscape trimmings, manure (don't use dog, cat, or pet bird droppings, which may contain parasites), grass clippings, hair (yes, very high in nitrogen. I know someone who collects a big bag of it periodically from a hair salon!) and weeds, but not if they've gone to seed or they spread with runners. Brown materials include sawdust, straw, chopped prunings, shredded paper, shredded cardboard, paper towels, Pine needles, dry leaves, Coffee grounds/teabags. Remember to keep the pile uniformly moist and to turn it to provide oxygen for all those little microorganisms doing the work. Good luck with your compost!

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