Compost is a dark, crumbly, earthy smelling material that is great for your garden. Composting is the natural breakdown of organic material (kitchen and yard materials) by micro-organisms (bacteria and fungi), insects and worms. See below for how you can get your own backyard composter.
What are the benefits of compost?
Composting is nature's way of recycling. Compost is a natural process and returns nutrients and organic matter to the soil, and feeds beneficial micro-organisms, insects and worms. It improves the texture, oxygen-retaining capabilities and moisture-holding capacity of the soil. Compost is a soil conditioner and a source of fertilizing nutrients. It conditions and improves the overall structure of soils by adding organic matter. Compost contains fertilizing nutrients that are released slowly over time. This can reduce, if not eliminate, the need for chemical fertilizers.
Beyond its benefit to gardens, there's another compelling reason to have some form of composting system in your yard. Putting garden and kitchen material in a compost bin removes these materials from curbside waste collection and saves landfill space. Approximately 30% of household waste in Ontario is consists of yard material or food waste that is compostable. Composting reduces greenhouse gases that are produced when organic material decomposes in a landfill without oxygen.
Composting is about maintaining a good mix of 'greens' (nitrogen rich materials), and 'browns' (carbon rich materials). 'Greens' are kitchen scraps and grass clippings and 'browns' are dry fall leaves. Always cover or mix 'greens', especially food wastes, with a layer of 'browns'. If you don't have a supply of dry leaves, soil or compost can be used to cover 'greens'. A good technique is to build your compost pile in layers of 'greens' and 'browns' so you won't need to mix and turn the pile.