The oldest method for recovering resources through recycling. It is the natural process by which organic matter decays into a dark, rich and crumbly substance called humus, which makes an excellent soil conditioner.
Composting can be done on an individual basis in your backyard. Done on a large scale, as in municipal composting programs where leaves and yard debris collected in a community are brought to a central site for composting, it is an environmentally sound and practical method for turning refuse into a valuable resource.
Composting benefits both the community and the environment. Using compost is a time honored tradition among home gardeners because it contains vital nutrients for plants. Adding compost can improve the quality of soil and increase water retention. The result is heartier plants and savings from decreased water consumption.
Composing speeds natural decomposition under semi controlled conditions. Microorganisms feed on organic material and churn out humus – a process requiring moisture and oxygen. As microbes work, their activity causes temperatures within the pile to rise as much as 160°F, which kills human disease organisms and weed seeds.
In addition to yard wastes, much of the organic household trash that we throw away every day is suitable for the backyard compost pile. These include vegetable and fruit peelings, coffee grounds and tea leaves, egg shells, wood ashes, and floor sweepings. Cooked food and animal fats are not acceptable, because they may cause odor or attract pests. A pile should be turned immediately if ammonia or other offensive odors are detected. Allowing proper time is important. Compost that is not fully decomposed may cause nitrogen starvation when used on plants.
Bagging grass clippings is not necessary to maintain your lawn. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn after mowing ensures that nutrients will be returned to the soil. Grass clippings are 20-30% protein, and usually contain about 4% nitrogen, 2% potassium, and 0.5% phosphorus as well as all the necessary trace elements plants need.
When leaving clippings on the lawn, adjust your lawnmower to remove no more than 1/3 of the grass leaf surface at any one mowing. Any mower can be used but one that mulches as it cuts is best.