Snow Stacking & Removal

Tips for successful composting

Flying insects attracted to your compost?

Small fruit flies, especially, are naturally attracted to the compost pile. They can be discouraged by simply covering any exposed fruit or vegetable matter, by keeping a small pile of grass clippings handy next to your compost bin, and when you add new kitchen waste to the pile, cover it with one or two inches of clippings. Adding lime or calcium will also discourage flies.

Unpleasant odors from your compost pile?

This can be a concern in urban and suburban areas with small lots and neighbors living close by. Odors can be reduced, or eliminated, by following two practices: first, remember to not put bones or meat scraps into the compost; second, cover new additions to the compost pile with dry grass clippings or similar mulch. Adding lime or calcium will also neutralize odors. If the compost smells like ammonia, add carbon-rich elements such as straw, peat moss or dried leaves.

Is your compost pile steaming?

No problem, it's a good thing. Having a hot, steamy pile means that you have a large community of microscopic critters working away at making your compost.

Composting and weed seeds.

A liability in composting is the unexpected introduction of new weed seeds to your garden. This is caused by slow or incomplete composting which did not generate enough heat to kill any and all weed seeds. Weed seeds in compost are a nuisance because once the compost is transferred to your garden beds, the compost acts to fertilize the weeds and make them even more persistent!

Buying bedding for animals, mulch or carbon-rich material to bulk up your compost pile, can be introducing seeds to your garden, via the compost.  

 The way to eliminate weed seeds is by following these two steps.

1. Make sure your compost is hot enough.
 Reach your hand into the center of the pile, it should be almost too hot for comfort. Specifically, the temperature should be around 130-150°F. It takes about 30 days at 140°F to kill all weed seeds.

2. Mix your pile.
 While your compost may be hot in the center of the mass, the outside of the pile is cooler, which in turn gives the seeds a chance to survive. Mixing brings cooler material to the warmer area and also increases aeration which helps attain the higher heat levels. Compost tumblers are very useful for this. 

Speeding Up the Compost Process

Compost decomposes fastest at temperatures between 120-160°F, so anything that will increase the heat will help your compost decompose faster. Here are four tips for fast composting:

 1. Chop and shred larger items. This makes it easier for the bacteria to break them down. An easy way to shred garden waste is to run your lawn mower over it before you put them in your bin or pile. Take scissors to newsprint or cardboard.

 2. Turn, turn, turn. Turning your pile gives frequent oxygen infusions and brings cooler material to the warmer areas, which helps attain the higher heat levels needed for faster decomposition.

 3. Collect all your garden or kitchen waste over a couple of days and then add it all at once. The more you add at one time, the more your compost will heat up.

 4. Keep your compost pile in the sun. The heat will speed up the process. Having it in the shade all day will make decomposition much slower, especially when freezing temperatures start to arrive in the fall.