How to Start Composting

Whew! Happy Tuesday! You know what I like about 3 days weekends? You can spend one day binge-watching Wet Hot American Summer all afternoon and another working your hind end off. This weekend included some serious DIY projects–cutting, priming, painting, landscaping–moving a new (used) refrigerator, and a failed beer cheese recipe. And while I will share pics of all of that in the near future, today I thought I’d tell you about one way we try to stay green. So here it is: “How to Start Composting.”

How to Start Composting | Hannah & Husband

The side of the garage before Husband worked his magic…

How to Start Composting | Hannah & Husband

The side of the garage after with our new compost bin.

While the timing of our move to Rivermont was absolutely perfect, I missed my summer garden. I am not fabulous at container gardening. A couple weeks ago, I picked up 3 pots of herbs and set them on the back porch. I found them Saturday. We had a brief ceremony and hummed Amazing Grace before tossing their shriveled remains.

But I love taking a little plot of land and watching food–real food–pop up out of the dirt. (Cue Oliver Wendell Douglas’ oration on farming here. #greenacres4lyfe) So I’m looking forward to next Spring’s garden by starting a compost bin. The best thing about compost is how much it helps cut down on our trash! The site of landfills turns my stomach so we are really trying to reduce our waste.

Compost is basically broken down organic materials that act as a superfood to your garden soil. It’s made up of 50% carbon materials (browns) and 50% nitrogen materials (greens). These are stored in a bin that is sealed enough to keep out animals but also has a few holes to allow air to circulate.

How to Start Composting | Hannah & Husband

I ordered this one from Amazon and put it together in about an hour. (Turn on a good podcast because there are A LOT of screws.) Our local tractor supply stores usually carry compost bins in the Spring because that’s the easiest time to get started. There are scraps from vegetables grown in the garden or clippings from mowing your lawn. Plus, it doesn’t have to fight freezing temps. But, as the carbon and nitrogen work to start breaking down, the mixture will heat up itself so the most important thing to do is just to be sure it has enough of each–greens and browns.

How to Start Composting | Hannah & Husband

What to Compost

Fruit and veggie scraps : GREEN

Eggshells : Neutral

Leaves : BROWN

Coffee grounds and tea bags: GREEN

Dryer lint : BROWN

Shredded newspaper, cardboard, toilet paper rolls (avoid glossy finishes or too much ink) : BROWN

Wood chips, saw dust : BROWN

Grass and garden clippings : GREEN

Stale bread and cooked pasta : BROWN

Never Add…


Dog Poo
Invasive Weeds (like ivy)

Now that you know what to throw in there are just three other things to note. The first is that your bin should avoid direct sunlight. Our’s is in a partly sunny spot to avoid the crazy Tennessee summer sun. The mixture will heat up because: science. It doesn’t need too much help from the sun.

Second, mix your compost (or turn your bin a few times if it’s suspended like ours) every 2-3 days.

Finally, be sure that your mixture stays moist. You want it to be the dampness of a sponge. If the mixture is too wet or starts to smell a bit like rotten eggs, add browns. And if it’s too dry, just sprinkle on a bit of water.

Next Spring, we’ll be set!

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