Creating your own compost using food scraps is easy and can be done right in your backyard. Here are the steps to get started:
The first step in making garden compost using food scraps is to choose a compost bin. Compost bins come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the most important thing is to choose one that fits your needs and the amount of waste you produce. Your compost setup should also have enough space to allow you to turn or stir the compost. This helps with even breakdown of the compost materials.
For those in Northern Michigan, it is important to choose a compost bin that is sturdy enough to withstand the colder temperatures and windy conditions of the region. We use a dual chamber compost tumbler for our homemade compost. Compost tumblers allow you to fully turn your compost without even having to put on a pair of gloves, making it very easy and convenient!
The next step is to collect your food scraps. You can collect a variety of food scraps, including fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and bread. However, it is important to avoid meat, dairy, and oily foods as they can attract pests and slow down the composting process.
Once you have collected your food scraps, it’s time to start layering your compost bin. Start with a layer of browns, such as dry leaves or twigs, at the bottom of the bin. This will help to provide air flow and drainage.
Next, add a layer of greens, such as food scraps and grass clippings. This layer should be approximately three times the size of the brown layer. Repeat these layers until the bin is full, making sure to keep a good balance of browns and greens.
Once your compost bin is full, it’s important to turn it regularly to ensure that the composting process is happening evenly. Turning your compost bin once a week is typically sufficient.
Some compost bins have a tumbling feature that allows you to spin the entire bin, mixing the contents inside. If you’re using a ground compost bin, you’ll want to use a tool like a pitchfork or shovel to turn the mound of compost.
After several weeks, your compost should be ready to use. The amount of time it takes for compost to be ready to use will depend greatly on the season and the temperature of the compost. The compost should be dark and crumbly, with a pleasant earthy smell.
Use your compost to amend your garden soil or as a top dressing around your plants. You can also use compost as a soil amendment when planting new plants in landscaping areas.