Backyard Composting

Backyard Composting

Whether you are Backyard composting, Indoor composting, looking for compost bins or green gardening tips - look here for the answers

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So, you want to learn how to do backyard composting? Since we've already gone over all the great reasons to compost, let's "dig" right in! If you are interested in outdoor composting, there are a few options available to you.

Read through and decide what works best for you. We've listed them in order from the simplest method to the most time consuming.

Method One: How to Compost By Using Pits

Just like its name implies, this method involves digging a hole somewhere in your yard and throwing in kitchen waste. It's no doubt the easiest method and won't take much of your time. If you have a small yard or are concerned about whether or not you have the time or inclination to care for a large compost pile, this may be just the method for you.

All you have to do is choose areas where you can dig small holes in your yard. If you have a vegetable garden, an unused area of your garden is a great place to do this. The area around trees and shrubs also works well. Otherwise, choose an out-of-the-way area that isn't going to be an eye sore.

Hopefully, it's also close to your door. Save kitchen scraps in a small lidded contain in your kitchen (something that fits under the sink is perfect). When your container gets full, bring it outside and dump it in your hole. As the hole starts to fill up, cover it with at least 8 inches of dirt. Dig a new hole and repeat.

Method Two: How to Backyard Compost with a Holding or Turning Unit

If you'd like to be a little more involved with your compost, but aren't comfortable with the idea of a compost pile on your property, purchasing a holding unit might just be the right choice for you. You can purchase these handy little composters in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

You'll have to decide whether you want a holding unit or a turning unit. The main difference between the two is that if you purchase a holding unit, you'll have to "turn" the compost yourself, using a pitchfork, a broom handle, or a compost aerating tool.

Our Favorite Backyard Composting Bins

The Envirocycle Composter is one of our favorite tumbling units.  At under $40, it's one of the cheaper models, but it works great.

Also, if you desire additional capacity, take a look at the Sun-Mar Drum Composter. A bit more money, but you can really turn out a lot of garden composting.

Complete with a latched top to keep animals out and a collection bin at the bottom that holds excess water, this bin makes composting extremely easy.  All you've got to do is add kitchen waste and yard scraps and then spin the composter to aerate.

The Bosmere Garden Compost Bin is our favorite bin type model.  Also priced right around $140, this unit holds a lot of compost materials. We like the fact that the air vents are built it and are adjustable.

We also really like that this composter is made from recycled materials, making it even more eco friendly. The sliding bottom door makes accessing the compost that is ready to use simple.  The advantage to this model is that it will hold more material than the tumbling bin.

The only disadvantage is that you'll have to aerate your backyard compost pile using a pitchfork or Aerator

Once you've chosen your composting bin, you'll need to add both green material and brown material. You'll want about a 50/50 mix of green and brown material by weight. When done correctly, it will look as though you have more brown material, but remember, we are talking about weight and not volume.

You'll also need to add enough water to your compost pile to that is stays moist, but not sopping wet. If you grab a handful of composting material and squeeze it, it should be damp, but not dripping with water. - The Ultimate Garden Center

Last, make sure that your compost is being turned - either by turning it manually or in a composting bin, if you've purchased a turning bin.

Method Three - How to Backyard Compost using a pile

If you are adventurous and have a large enough yard area, making your own backyard compost pile can be fun and rewarding. It's also a project that the entire family can get involved in. Just like there are a number of methods to composting, creating your own outdoor compost pile can can be quite simple or you can make it very elaborate.

You don't absolutely need a bin to hold your compost, you could simply start a pile right on the ground, but having a bin does make it easier to manage. You can make a bin out of all kinds of things:

    Create one out of wood
    Stack cement blocks
    Make one out of chicken wire
    Use old wooden pallets to create your bin
Compost Bin Made From Pallets

Compost Bin Made From Pallets

Get creative! Ideally, you'll want your bin to be between 3'x 3' x 3' and 5' x 5' x 5'.

Once you have decided where you'll house your compost pile and what type of bin you'll be using, it's time to start adding ingredients. Remember, you'll want your pile to have a 50/50 ratio by weight, not volume.

Here's some additional tips for you:
    Add your items in layers - a layer of greens and then a layer of browns (remember, the browns will look bigger, but they should weigh about the same.)
    Add water when your pile starts to get dry, but only enough so that it is moist. Before adding water, poke deep holes into your compost so that the water reaches the center of the pile. If you have a lot of rain, you may want to cover your pile with a tarp so that you can control the amount of moisture you're getting.
    Aerate your pile every few weeks or so, using a pitchfork, broomstick, a compost aerating tool, or something similar. You want to move the material that is on the outside into the center. Air is very important to the composting process...

Also check out our articles on Indoor Composting, Worm Composting, Composting Troubleshooting, and Composting Materials for lots of additional great tips.

Also - here are some of our Favorite Books on Composting.

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