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how to compost 

Making Compost Happen

Composting at home is a fun, year-round family project.

How to compost? You put some worms in a worm box and feed them with kitchen scraps (no dairy, fat, or meat) regularly.

In a couple of weeks, you can drain off the excess organic matter for a finished compost that is a potent fertilizer for your yard. In a couple of months, you can use the finished compost in your garden. 

Worms are good for composting, and also the garden in general, because their excrement is high in nitrogen, plus they aerate the soil by tunneling. That improves tilth and allows water and air to get to the plants' roots.

Here's how to compost, step by step.

How to Compost: Start by Making a Worm Compost Bin

Here's how to make a worm bin and put your worms to work.

Get a big plastic tub (not see-through) with a lid. Shoot for a container 30 gallons or larger.

Create Drainage Holes

Drill holes along the sides of the plastic tub about 1/2 inch from the bottom for drainage. Poke some air holes near the top.

Layer With Newspaper

Put in about a 4-inch layer of shredded newspapers. Spray the papers with water until they are damp but not soggy.

Add Garden Soil and Grass Clippings

Now it's time to add some garden soil and grass clippings to the mix. Three or four handfuls should do it.

Mix in Kitchen Scraps

Mix in about 1 cup of chopped kitchen scraps. (Chopped kitchen scraps decompose faster than bigger pieces.)

Add Worms to Your Compost Pile

Now add the worms to your compost pile. Red wigglers are the best. You can usually buy them at garden centers. (Don't use nightcrawlers, the worms sold for bait.)

Mi in Kitchen Scraps Weekly

Add more kitchen scraps every week and keep the compost pile moist but not wet. (If it starts to smell, it's too wet.)

To keep flies from laying eggs on your compost pile, be sure to cover kitchen scraps with soil. Also, add more paper and grass clippings each week.

Store Your Compost Pile in a Shady Place

Store your worm compost pile (bin) in a shady place, such as a basement or garage.

Readying Your Finished Compost For the Garden

When you're ready to put your finished compost in the garden, separate the worms first so they can continue to compost organic matter for you.

The easiest way is to spread the contents of the plastic bin on a plastic garbage bag on the driveway on a sunny day. 

Cover half the organic matter with a box to shade it. The worms will crawl to the shady part. (Because your box is sitting on the uneven ground there are small raised areas for the worms to, well, worm their way out.)

Your finished compost is now food for your garden. It will help improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and keep your garden soil's pH balance in check.

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› How to Compost