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Here’s How to Start Composting at Home

Here’s How to Start Composting at Home

Using compost to help your plants thrive is a relatively easy process, even for inexperienced gardeners. Compost is decomposed organic matter that contains nutrients and acts as a plant fertilizer. Composting can be done both indoors and outdoors, so it really is a year-round solution for all of your garden spaces.

We’ve put together a list of tips for composting indoors and backyard composting to help get you started. Read on to learn more!

Benefits of Composting

There are a number of composting benefits, both for your garden and the environment:
  • Composting organic matter instead of throwing it in the garbage is a greener option and better for the environment
  • Composting allows you to make your own fertilizer vs. spending money on pre-packaged mixes
  • Compost delivers nutrients to your plants, boosting plant health to help them thrive
  • For sandy soils, compost improves water retention
  • Compost helps drainage in soils with a high clay content
  • Compost helps to raise the pH level of acidic soils and lower the pH in alkaline soils

Tips for Composting Indoors

If you have a small apartment garden, indoor composting helps improve the health of your plants without compromising on precious outdoor space. Even if you’re not an apartment dweller, composting indoors allows you to create and use compost all year round.

How to Start

When composting indoors, choose a space that is dark and dry – under cupboards or counters, in closets, a pantry or your basement are great options for your indoor composting bin.

Indoor composting bins should contain a ratio of three parts brown matter to one-part green matter. Brown matter includes:
  • Cardboard 
  • Newspaper
  • Dead leaves and small twigs
  • Egg and nut shells
  • Hay and straw
  • Wood chips

Green matter can include any of the following:
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps and peels
  • Plant and grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves

Fill your indoor composting bin up to the ¾ mark with damp brown matter like shredded newspaper or torn-up cardboard. Gently toss it, then sprinkle one cup of garden soil evenly over the bedding. From there, add green matter to generate compost.

Good to Know! You can add worms (vermicomposting) to your indoor composting pile to speed up decomposition, but aerobic composting is better suited for indoors. Aerobic composting involves aerating your compost and then adding it to your soil.

You can also use compost bags and liners to help absorb liquid for less mess, or to transfer indoor compost to outdoor composting bins.

Best Composting Bins for Indoor Use

Not sure what type of composting bin you need for indoor composting? You can use any of the following:

Ideally, your indoor composting bin should fit your chosen space comfortably while still having enough depth to hold more than a week’s worth of organic matter.

If you’re choosing a lidded container, you need to drill holes in the top to let air in to facilitate the decomposition process.
Indoor Composting

Indoor Composting 101: Do’s and Don’ts

Here’s what to do and what not to do when composting indoors:
  • DO turn the compost regularly with a garden trowel to promote aeration because oxygen assists the decomposition process
  • DON’T add produce that still has the sticker on as plastics don’t decompose
  • DO add shredded papers, leaves and water to maintain the brown/green and wet/dry ratio
  • DON’T leave food waste on the top layer of compost as the exposed scraps can attract fruit flies and cause odours
  • DO make sure the organic matter is cut into manageable pieces

Tips for Backyard Composting

If you have enough outdoor space, consider creating a backyard composting area to help maintain your garden. Outdoor composting allows you to make your own fertilizer to keep your garden and lawn healthy.

How to Start

To start backyard composting, you need a designated space and the right bin. Your outdoor composting bin should be kept out of direct sunlight and the area should be level and well-drained.

As mentioned above, there are two main types of composting: vermicomposting and aerobic composting. You can add worms to your outdoor composting pile if you want, although worms will likely find their own way in because your bin is outdoors.

Like indoor composting, your backyard composting bin should have a ratio of brown and green matter. For backyard composting, a 50/50 ratio works best, topped with garden soil.

Best Composting Bins for Outdoor Use

Successful outdoor composting starts with the right bin. Consider the size of your garden before choosing a composting bin. The amount of compost you need really depends on the number of plants you have to fertilize.

There are two types of backyard composting bins:

Continuous composters work at a slower rate, but you can continuously put food and yard waste on top of decomposing matter to generate a constant stream of compost.

Batch composters generate compost faster as the tumbling method accelerates the process. It generates compost in batches, meaning you have to save up organic matter in separate piles until you’re ready to make a batch. This is a great option for small gardens.
Outdoor Compost Bin

Outdoor Composting 101: Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some easy composting tips to ensure your backyard composting is successful:
  • DO stir your compost regularly to promote aeration
  • DON’T leave your composting bin in direct sunlight
  • DO keep your compost moist and damp, especially in the summer
  • DON’T use super small pieces: try to keep scraps roughly the same size
  • DO add leaves and grass as needed to maintain the perfect ratio and accelerate the composting process
  • DON’T leave food scraps on top: use leaves, straw or other brown matter to cover food waste so it doesn’t attract critters, rodents or pests
  • DO use a compost pail to transfer food scraps from the kitchen to your backyard composting pile

Composting Food Waste: What to Include and What to Avoid

When it comes to what you can and can’t compost, the list is the same whether you’re outdoor or indoor composting. Here’s what you can always add to your compost pile:
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Tea leaves
  • Coffee grounds
  • Non-glossy paper and cardboard
  • Leaves
  • Grass and plant clippings
  • Egg and nut shells
Make sure you never add the following to your composting bin:
  • Plastic of any kind, including produce stickers
  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Meats, fats and oils
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Pet droppings
  • Glossy paper products
  • Perennial weeds or weeds with seed heads
  • Plants sprayed with herbicides or pesticides
With the right tools and know-how, composting at home is a lot easier than it seems. The benefits of composting are many: from improving the health of your plants and garden, to saving money on fertilizer, to positively impacting the environment. Just be sure to start with a composting bin that meets your needs. Shop our Garden Centre now for more great ideas and inspiration.
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