Beginner's Guide to Composting

If you are on a similar road as us, you're homestead dreaming, looking for land to build your homestead or trying to be more self reliant. But, we don't have to wait, we can start homesteading now where ever we are! One way is to start composting your kitchen scraps and yard waste.

What is Composting?

Composting is a practice of turning leftover vegetable matter from your kitchen or manure into compost which is a mixture of decaying organic matter we used to fertilize our gardens. This mixture is made up by gathering plant materials in a pile and letting it decompose with the help or fungi, microorganisms, and aerobic bacteria. Composting is a great addition to any homestead because it offers an excellent nutritional boost to your gardens with little effort on your part. And let's face it, we all create kitchen scraps we could put to use, rather than throwing in the trash, to create compost to feed our vegetable garden for better harvests to eat! That my friends, is permaculture!

Why YOU should be composting!

If you aren't already composting, you are throwing out these valuable resources for healthy plant growth in the trash with a slew of other items that will NEVER break down in a landfill. If you don't have room to have a compost pile outside there are affordable and fun indoor composting systems or community compost programs in place where the plant materials are broken down and residents are able to harvest finished compost for their gardens!

Starting to Compost is as EASY as 1-2-3!

1. Choose the size of your compost pile!

When deciding to compost your kitchen scraps and garden's plant material waste, there are a couple things to keep in mind to ensure your success. Questions to ask yourself are: How much compost do you think your household or homestead can create? Will you be able to supply enough kitchen scraps or manure to your pile to keep the microorganisms active? How much compost do you wish to create to supply your gardens with a nutritional boost for the growing season?

2. Choose the location of your compost pile!

Pick a place for your compost bin that will set you up for success and avoid some nasty repercussions of maintaining a compost pile. Consider placing it close to where you will need your finished compost most, for us that is close to the vegetable garden. It is easy to grab the weeds to throw in the bin as well. Don't place your compost bin next to your home, bugs and other microorganisms are drawn to the decaying material and you don't want that around your home. Be sure to place your compost pile in the sun for warmth, with good air flow to keep the bugs happy and with good drainage to ensure the compost doesn't become water logged.

3. Build, buy or find a compost container!

There are several different types of compost bins. There is a tumbler version that can is on a stand, once you ad your new plant material you just give it a spin! A stand alone bin is simple, where you add your material from the top and harvest from the bottom. You could also get creative like we did {pictured above} and build it out of sticks or some pallet wood but requires you to turn the whole pile with a shovel every once in a while. You don't even NEED a container, just pick a spot in your yard and pile it up! Is handy to have a small container in your kitchen to collect compost!

Now you are ready to begin composting! But wait! You can't throw everything in there!

What you shouldn't throw in the compost!

You can throw all your vegetable and fruit kitchen scraps, I do not suggest throwing in meat, dairy, or cheese. These items can encourage maggots to join in on the compost fun. Yuck!