Composting Basics
Composting pile materials green kitchen close upComposting Basics

I decided to put my thoughts about composting on the site without necessarily going into a lot of detail. The truth is there is plenty of information online and everyone has a "recipe" for the best compost pile.

I am experimenting with my own recipe now and will continue to write about what is working and what is not.

Picture - Kitchen scraps used for green materials in the compost pile.
Common Knowledge

Regardless of the method you choose, there is still a basic set of rules for composting. The consensus is you need the following 4 ingredients for a successful compost pile. Use proper ratios of these materials.
  • Carbon - For energy. The microbial oxidation of carbon produces heat. High carbon materials are brown and dry.
  • Nitrogen - To grow and reproduce more organisms to oxidize the carbon. High nitrogen materials are green (or colorful, such as fruits and vegetables) and wet.
  • Oxygen - For oxidizing the carbon, the decomposition process.
  • Water - To maintain activity without causing anaerobic conditions.
Also consider the following:
  • Beneficial bacteria works to heat up the pile. A hotter pile (135°-160° Fahrenheit / 50° - 70° Celsius) needs air and water more often although too much air, water, and carbon, or too little nitrogen slows down the process.
  • A carbon and nitrogen mix of about 30 to 1 is best. Mixing equal amounts of each by volume approximates the ideal C/N range.
  • Nearly all plant and animal materials have both carbon and nitrogen, but amounts vary widely.
  • Human urine can be put onto compost.
  • Vermicompost is the product or process of composting through the utilization of various species of worms.
  • A compost pile needs to be turned or mixed periodically in order to keep the pile aerated.
Wikipedia - Compost - General information about composting.
Planet Natural - Really good introduction and information about composting. Recommended
Tropical Gardening - Blog entry with a few good tips for composting in the tropics.
Oregon State University - Fertilizing with yard trimmings. A very technical approach to composting.
Journey to Forever - General information about composting.
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