Quick Guides to Composting

Fall is the perfect time to start a compost pile. Instead of burning leaves or leaving them at the curb for trash collection, tell your customer to save them for their compost piles.

With a compost pile, customers save money, get free fertilizer, help the environment and send less trash to the landfill. By next summer, they’ll have a nutrient rich compound to fuel their garden growth.

Offer these tips to customers ready to start their own compost pile.

  • COMPOST PILE SIZE: Keep the pile between four and 10 feet in diameter and no taller than five feet high. This allows for proper airflow and temperature regulation.
  • TRIGGER: Add Ringer® Compost Plus® to speed the process. Use about 1 cup per 4-inch layer of compost material.
  • MOISTURE NEEDS: Make sure the pile stays damp. If there’s no rain, just use a garden hose — but only sparingly. If the pile gets too wet, it won’t decompose.
  • HELP OUT: If you want to speed up the composting process, try shredding leaves first.
  • MORE MATERIAL: Add more material to fuel the process and add nutrients, including shrub prunings, straw, hay, cooled wood ashes, corn cobs, corn stalks, newspaper, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, fresh clippings and manure from herbivores only. (See below!)
  • TURNING: Rotate the pile monthly in warm temperatures and less frequently in cooler temperatures by moving the outside portions to the inside. If the pile smells bad, it’s time to rotate.
  • IT’S READY! The compost pile is done when it’s about half the original size, is dark in color and smells earthy. The process which usually takes from four to nine months.

More Help for Compost Piles

Let your customer’s know that source material for their compost pile is all around them, but it’s important to know what works and what doesn’t:

  • BROWN ITEMS: Dry or dead leaves, wood chips, straw, sawdust, cornstalks and newspapers.
  • GREEN ITEMS: Damp or more recently alive plants, fresh grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds, manure (herbivores only) and freshly removed plants (no weeds!)
  • 4-TO-1 RATIO: Add four brown items for every one green item. Brown materials are carbon rich and green materials are nitrogen rich. Nitrogen is what causes a compost pile to heat up and go through the actual decomposition process.
  • NO DECOMPOSITION? Add more green material.
  • AMMONIA SMELL? Too much green material.
  • SIMPLE COMPOST BIN: Create a ring with chicken wire and load compost material into it.
  • STIRRING/TURNING THE PILE: Use a pitchfork and rotate the material in the pile once a week.
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