Enrich your gardens — and your wallets— with DIY composting.
Environmental technology is often seen as both high-tech and expensive. However, one of the greenest tactics you can employ is as old and as plain as dirt! Composting is a green process that turns your kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich soil, diverts waste from landfills, and reduces your household’s carbon footprint.
Benefits of Composting
• Enriches soil, retains moisture, and suppresses plant diseases and pests
• Captures and stores atmospheric carbon dioxide
• Reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers
• Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material
• Reduces landfill waste
• Reduces methane emissions from landfills
• Reduces soil erosion
How to Compost at Home
While there are many different ways to make a compost pile, we will focus on backyard composting and options for indoor composting.
1. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
2. Add brown and green materials as they are collected, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded, keeping a ratio of brown to green at 2 to 1.
3. Moisten dry materials as they are added.
4. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and buryfruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of com-post material.
5. (Optional) Cover the top of the compost with a tarp to keep it moist. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere from two months to two years.
If you don’t have a backyard, but would still like to compost, consider indoor or garage composting options like vermicomposting (the scientific bin-based composting method using earthworms) or bokashi composting, which speeds the decomposition process through fermentation. MU Extension and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources are great local sources for com-posting guidance and expertise.
DIY: Composting at Home
At-home composting can be fun, educational, and used to ease eco-anxiety by providing a hands-on solution to fight climate change —right in your own backyard! To get started, make sure you have these three ingredients:
This is what most people think of when they think of composting. Greens include vegetable waste, fruit scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings.
Browns are made up of dead leaves, branches, twigs, wood chips, straw, sawdust, cornstalks, and newspaper.
Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is critical for compost development. Water aids in decomposition and helps regulate the compost’s temperature.
What to Compost:
• Fruits and vegetables
• Coffee grounds and filters
• Tea bags
• Nut shells
• Shredded newspaper
• Yard trimmings
• Grass clippings
• Hay and straw
• Wood chips
• Cotton and wool rags
• Hair and fur
• Fireplace ashes
What Not to Compost:
• Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
• Coal or charcoal ash
• Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs
• Diseased or insect-ridden plants
• Fats, grease, lard, or oils
• Meat or fish bones and scraps
• Pet wastes(e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)
• Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides