Autumn is the perfect time to get out in your yard and put nature to work for your benefit. You can do so by harvesting the abundance of fallen leaves and branches for a compost pile. Composting will not only give you a healthier garden but will also contribute to a healthier planet.
Much of what we throw away is compostable, but when it ends up in a landfill instead, it contributes to significant damage to our atmosphere. In landfills, waste lacks the oxygen needed to decompose easily and releases methane gas, which is a harmful greenhouse gas. Landfills are filling up at an increasing rate, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, 30 percent of what we send to the landfill could be diverted by being composted.
Turns out, there’s value to be found in the things you throw away. By composting them, you’ll add great nutrients to your plants and increase the amount of organic matter in your garden. That serves as a healthy alternative to chemical fertilizers and can protect against plant diseases. Compost also helps retain soil moisture, so you won’t need to waste as much water on yard work
Compostable materials are biodegradable and are either carbon or nitrogen-based. Common carbon materials include branches, dry leaves, newspaper, and cardboard. Nitrogen materials usually come from the kitchen — things like fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and tea bags, as well as grass clippings.
There should always be more carbon materials in your compost pile than nitrogen. Those bulky brown materials allow oxygen to work through the compost and keep it from developing an odor.
Don’t put meat scraps or bones in your compost, unless you want to attract critters to your property, and stay away from anything that might have been treated with pesticides. Chopping up your materials will help them break down faster. It also helps to avoid putting lots of one material in at the same time, like leaves or sawdust. These might clump up and make it difficult for the oxygen to work its magic.
Choose the composting method that works best for your home. Someone with a lot of outdoor space may choose to create an open compost pile right on the ground, while an enclosed bin might work better for someone in an urban environment. However you do it, composting is an easy way to get creative in your yard and live a healthier lifestyle.