In our previous post we talked about what to compost as far as composting ingredients. We explain the difference between “brown” and “green” composting ingredients and the proper ratios you should use. In this post we will talk about how to make a compost batch by “mixing” our ingredients!
There are mainly two different ways of composting, that being traditional composting using a compost pile and “rotating” or “tumbling” composting using a tumbler such as the Envirocycle Composter or Tumbleweed Composter. We will be talking about mixing up a batch using the tumbling method and a tumbler like the Compost Wizard Jr.
If you still have not chosen a tumbler and are having a hard time deciding, check out our post “Best Compost Tumbler”…
Using a tumbler makes it easy to learn how to compost at home and I like to compare it to mixing up a “tossed salad”! We already know that we will be adding two types of organic matter in the forms of wet or green materials and dry or brown materials. When adding our ingredients, composting works best when the organic matter or pieces are small. If you have larger woody pieces or branches, sending them through a wood chipper will help greatly.
When adding our organic materials into our tumbler, it is important to remember that aeration and moisture are inversely proportional. What this means is there must be enough aeration or “air” to ensure that the materials start to decompose. Also, proper aeration ensures that you will not have any unpleasant odors!
Your “tossed salad” should be about 50% to 60% in terms of moisture. If you are not sure about how moist to keep your composting ingredients, if you remember to just keep it as damp as a sponge that has been wet and squeezed out, your batch will do well.
Once again, the proper proportion of carbons (browns) and nitrogen (greens) is very important for proper composting. If there are too much “brown materials”, your composting will be very, very slow. On the other hand, if there are too much “green materials”, your composting will be very rapid but you will more than likely have some odor!
The ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio is actually 30:1. I know what you’re thinking! How can you mix up a batch of compost without doing any unnecessary complicated calculations!?
Simply remember that your dry materials or browns should always be mixed with your moist materials or greens. If the compost does not decompose, there is too much carbon. If there is an odor, simply add more dry or brown materials as your compost is to wet!
Also, a helpful tip is adding your composting materials to your tumbler in a layered fashion, alternating your layers of browns and greens. You can add 2 to 3 inches of Browns such as leaves, straw, paper products, woody trimmings, pine needles, and straw into your tumbler. Next, you can add 1 to 2 inches of greens to your tumbler such as kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leafy plant trimmings, etc. Once again please refer to our post on composting ingredients to see a list along with a carbon to nitrogen ratio. Daily add your greens and browns to your composter, close and secure your lid, and then rotate your tumbler at least 3 times a week.
Make sure and rotate your composter at least three times a week to ensure proper air circulation and a perfect mix. Keep your composting materials moist (like a damp sponge)!
Another tip or option when making compost is to add a little bit of your native soil to activate the batch. Remember, your soil also contains all those little “critters” needed to ensure a great batch of compost!