Backyard composting is a simple way to reduce the amount of waste you bring to our landfill sites each week. Composting is a process that turns kitchen and yard waste into a dark, nutrient-rich soil called humus. The produced soil can be used to promote weed and erosion control, protect plant roots from sun/wind damage, conserves water, increases water retention in sandy soils, aids drainage in clay, and reduces soil diseases.
Although our Municipality does not sell compost bins or compost digesters, we still encourage you to compost in your own backyard. Compost bins can be purchased at most hardware stores. You can also search the internet for the perfect plans to build your own.
Benefits of Composting
Composting Reduces Waste & Helps the Environment - The more kitchen and yard waste that is composted, the less waste goes into our landfills. Keeping organic waste out of our landfills reduces the production of methane, which is a greenhouse gas 30 times as potent as carbon dioxide.
Using Compost Improves Soil & Plant Health - The application of quality compost improves the soil in lawns and gardens in so many ways. For example, compost:
Adds slow release macronutrients and organic matter
Supports and enhances the soil’s community of beneficial micro-organisms
Improves drainage and aeration in dense, clay soil
Enables light soil to retain nutrients and moisture
Attracts earthworms and other beneficial organisms
Enhances the soil’s ability to clean the water that passes through it on the way to our streams and rivers
Results in a darker soil colour, which better holds the sun’s warmth
How Composting Works
A compost pile is really a teeming microbial farm. Bacteria start the process of breaking down organic matter. They feed on plant tissue and are very effective composters. Fungi and protozoans soon join the bacteria, and somewhat later in the cycle, centipedes, millipedes, beetles, and earthworms do their part.
Carbon and nitrogen from cells of dead plants and dead microbes fuel the tiny decomposers. Carbon in leaves or woodier wastes are an energy source, and nitrogen provides microbes with materials to build their bodies.
Setting up Your Backyard Composter
To set up your compost bin, follow these steps:
- Choose a sunny location with good drainage that is easy to access
- To prevent pests or rodents from disturbing the composter, place a base of chicken wire on the ground and set the composter on top of the base
- Layer green materials high in nitrogen like kitchen scraps and grass clippings with brown materials high in carbon like dried leaves. Alternate the layers and turn the compost regularly. Add a thin layer of soil periodically to add more micro-organisms and speed up the composting process
- Add water if needed. Compost should feel damp like a wrung out sponge
Compost is ready when the texture is dark and crumbly and has a pleasant earth-like smell. It usually takes about one year to produce rich compost.
What can you compost in your backyard?
What Can Go In A Backyard Composter?
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
- Corn stalks
- Egg shells
- Fruit and vegetable scraps (peels, cuttings, cores, rinds)
- Grass trimmings (dry)
- Hay, straw
- Plant cuttings, pine needles
- Pumpkins (Take Jack out Back! Remove candles and other decorations, cut up your jack o'lantern and put it in your backyard composter.)
- Shredded newspaper, shredded cardboard
- Wood ashes (cold)
What Can NOT Go In A Backyard Composter?
- Dairy Products
- Dog or cat waste
- Fatty foods like cheese
- Leftover cooking oil
- Plants infected with disease
- Rhubarb leaves and other toxic plants
- Salad dressing
- Walnut shells and leaves
- Weeds with mature seeds
Facts and Tips
- Consider a sunny location, the heat will help items break down faster.
- Materials small in size break down faster - cut materials up using a lawnmower, food processor, leaf shredder, knife or hand pruners.
- Too hot or too cold to compost? Place compost in repurposed bags or containers in your freezer and add it to your composter when it is convenient.
- A moist compost pile just works better; keep materials watered or covered up to keep your pile the dampness of a wrung out sponge.
- Aerate! Air and ventilation are key. Whether you manually turn your pile or use a stick to stir and poke holes in your compost bin, air speeds up the decomposition process and deters pests.
- Finished compost is a great treat for your flower and vegetable garden, lawn, and potted plants!