There's Never Been A Better Time To Compost- Here's How To Get Started

by Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Last Updated: April 29, 2020

From coffee grounds to melon rinds and beyond, composting is making dirt the new gold. Adding nutrient-rich compost to your garden and flower beds is the most natural way to enrich the soil. As a bonus, the process can significantly reduce the amount of organic matter waste from your home and yard. According to the National Resources Defense Council, composting can also reduce methane gas that is produced from landfills, improving air quality and nurturing the environment. The process may seem daunting, but trust us, you will be turning scraps to soil-nourishing compost in no time with these four steps:
  1. Create a composting space compatible with your lifestyle.
    If you live in a moderate-temperature climate, you can use a three-square-foot space in your yard, starting the pile directly on the ground. Using a black compost container, which enhances heat production, is another option. Consider priming the pile with an organic compost starter which contains ready-to-grow microbes. Next, you’ll add your material to the starter. If your accommodations keep you from starting your own composting pile just yet, look for a composting service in your area. Many have pick-up services for low monthly fees.
  2. Add “green” and “brown” materials in a 2:1 ratio.
    Green materials are wet and consist of food scraps, like fruit and vegetable peels, cores, stems, whole pieces of produce, coffee grounds with the filter paper, and grass clippings. They contribute moisture and nitrogen to your composting pile.
    Brown materials are dry and consist of dried leaves, nutshells, saw dust, shredded cardboard, and yard trimmings. Brown matter allows microbes to contribute carbon to your composting pile and balance the moisture of the green materials.
  3. Don’t adore the odor? Consider skipping these items in your compost pile.
    • Eggshells: These can take longer to break down.
    • Garlic and onions: They may create strong odors.
    • Cooked items, fat/oils, meat and dairy scraps: They may carry pathogens, attract pests, and produce offensive odors.
    • Black walnut tree leaves and twigs, coal, and charcoal ash: These might release substances that are harmful to plants.
    • Pet feces: This can be dangerous to humans.
  4. Maintain the right conditions for the best result.
    Adjust your 2:1 “green to brown” ratio as needed to keep it moist- not too wet and not too dry. If the pile looks a little wet, add brown material. If it looks dry, add green material. Support the composting process by mixing the pile with a shovel once a week in the summer and once every three to four weeks in the winter.

    Heat, moisture, and microbial action work together to form, in 90 days or so, a dark brown, crumbly mixture. There you have it, now you’re doing the most with compost! It should resemble chocolate cake crumbs and smell slightly sweet, musty, and a bit earthy.

If you find yourself with surplus compost, you can donate to the community, friends, and family. Think of those in your life who may not have the space or resources for composting. Compost is a much-loved gift for any apartment dwelling house plant lovers in your life. Their plants and the environment will both appreciate your venture into composting. Composting is also a smart solution to offset food waste at home.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Tiffany is a compassionate dietitian with experience in nutrition throughout the lifespan along with empowering those with diabetes and heart disease to use food as medicine. A believer in total body wellness, she has a decade of experience as a licensed massage therapist. With a passion for healthy living, she practices hot yoga, enjoys most any fitness activities, stays active in the community, and loves spending time with her family.