Mulch mowing returns 25% of nitrogen to the lawn and does not build up thatch. Composting is a natural way to turn yard waste into rich organic material that can be put back into the garden and kept out of the landfill. Over 20% of the trash going to landfill in the United States is made up of yard trimmings and food waste. These materials fill scarce and valuable landfill space, and create special problems as they decompose.
Yet most of these materials can easily be composted for valuable soil amendment. When added to garden soils, compost:
- Protects soil from erosion and compaction.
- Provides nutrients for plant growth.
- Makes soil easier to till in tight clay soils.
- Increases water holding capacity of sandy soils and improves drainage.
To the right are some links to help you get started composting today.
Programs We Offer
Composting demonstrations are held at all of our event days: Tree Festival, Herb Day, and Tomato Day. Presentations on composting are also available most years at the Spring Gardening Workshop or the Outdoor Living & Landscape Show.
On Our Grounds
Our composting area is in the Demonstration Garden on the Extension grounds, on the west side of the building. We have a variety of compost bins in use and signage to provide more information. Our Master Gardener Compost committee staffs the area most Saturday mornings during the Farmers' Market.
What materials can be composted?
Most yard waste can be composted. Compost piles need a mixture of brown materials (high carbon, such as leaves) and green materials (high nitrogen, such as grass clippings). Avoid using yard waste that has been sprayed with herbicides or that has lots of insects or diseases present. Kitchen scraps are also great for home compost piles, as long as you do not include meat scraps or bones and high fat items.
Other organic materials can also be used in a home compost pile, although some materials should only be used in a commercial compost operations, such as manures.
What type of compost bin should I use?
There are many types of compost bins, ranging from homemade bins to fancy purchased bins. It is important to consider the size you need to accommodate your yard waste as well as ease of use.
If you want to build your own bin, most people find a bin made of wooden pallets to be the easiest to make.
How can I use my homemade compost?
Compost can be used in a variety of ways. The most important way to use compost is to incorporate it into your garden soils to improve the quality of the soil. It can also be used as a mulch, in soil mixes for containers, or as a slow release source of nutrients.