How to Start Your Own Compost

We live in a world full of waste, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Food and other natural materials decompose, but throwing all of this into the trash bin removes your opportunity to use the byproduct of decomposing waste: soil. Plant and food waste will break down over time, resulting in a free and nutrient-rich pile of soil to use in your garden.

Composting is super easy and can be done by anyone, regardless of the space you have in your yard. It can even be done inside using special composting bins. If you want to start your own compost pile to reduce your trash impact and create healthy soil for your property, you can do so in just a few easy steps.

Creating a compost space

The first step to composting is to identify the place your compost pile will reside, whether it’s in your backyard, near your home patio or indoors. Compost piles can be as simple as a hole in the ground, or can be done in more elaborate bins and tumblers. Visit a hardware store in Seattle to get the necessary tools to build your compost pile. Here are a few types of compost methods you can try at home:

  • Outdoor pile: The easiest and cheapest way to compost is to simply create a pile outside, preferably on a piece of your lawn or other organic material. Designate an area of at least 3’ x 3’ for your pile, which you can fence or rope off if needed.
  • Compost bins: Compost bins are comprised of three separate bins, typically made of wood that are easy to DIY with materials from a hardware store in Seattle. The first bin holds raw material scraps that you can add to the second bin, where the organic materials are actively decomposing. The third bin can hold any material that hasn’t broken down yet once the compost has turned into soil. This method is great for making a lot of compost.
  • Compost tumblers: Compost tumblers use a barrel-shaped bin that is mounted and can be turned with a crank. All you need to do is add your compost material, turn the crank to kick-start decomposition, then wait for nature to do its thing.

Starting the compost

Once you have your composting area, you’ll need to gather your supplies and add them to the pile.

First, compile “browns”—materials like leaves and shredded newspaper—and spread a layer several inches thick to the bottom of the pile. Next, add a few inches of “greens”—materials like grass clippings, vegetable peelings and fruit scraps. Then, add a thin layer of garden soil to the top. Moisten the entire pile, but don’t make the pile soggy.

Continue to add layers of browns, greens and a little garden soil until you have a pile about 5’ high. It may take you a while to build up the pile, but just keep adding as you collect materials.

Every few weeks, use a shovel to turn the compost pile and bring the materials that were in the center out towards the top of the pile. Rain will help keep your compost moist, but you may need to water the pile if it appears dry.

Eventually, the compost will turn into moist, crumbly soil, which you can shovel out and add to your garden. Restart the compost pile with any material that hasn’t decomposed yet.

If you’re interested in creating your own compost, visit your local hardware store in Seattle for the necessary materials to build a compost bin and tend the pile. Stewart Lumber & Hardware Co. has served contractors, homeowners and remodelers with a vast selection of quality building supplies for over 90 years. We’d be happy to help you find the materials you need to create a compost pile, tend to your lawn and garden and much more. Visit us today!

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