A: Add carbon-rich “Browns” such as saw dust and fine wood chips from untreated wood, straw, dried leaves or shredded paper/cardboard.
Q: Why won’t my pile heat up?
A: The microbes in your pile require nitrogen-rich “Greens” to stay active in the decomposition process. Adding fruit and vegetable scraps or coffee grounds to your pile will usually do the trick by helping to accelerate the decomposition process. This in turn raises your compost pile’s temperature.
Q: What if I run out of carbon-sources – Browns? Where can I source that from?
Q: How long will it take for my backyard compost bin to produce finished compost?
A: Most people find that they can harvest finished compost from the bottom of their backyard compost bin every 6 months or so. However, if you have a good mix of Greens and Browns, and keep the pile from getting to wet or dry, you will find that you can “cook” a batch of compost in as little as 6 weeks.
Q: What does finished compost look and smell like?
A: Finished compost should have reduced in size by about 50%. It is usually dark brown in appearance with no recognizable items still visible. Compost smell is also a significant indicator. Finished compost should smell earthy or like dirt. If it smells sour or like ammonia, it’s not ready yet.
Q: Do I need to turn my compost pile?
A: Not necessarily. One of the main benefits of layered composting is that it reduces the amount of physical labor you have to put in to make sure that your compost system is healthy and productive. Properly layering your materials based on the tips in this guide and adding water when needed should create optimal temperature and moisture conditions to produce quality compost.
Q: What do I do if I see a lot of insects buzzing around my pile?
A: Insects such as gnats, millipedes, bees and ants are a normal part of composting, but an active pile will create enough heat to kill their eggs and reduce nuisance insects. Make sure you are following the steps listed in this guide and you shouldn’t see an extensive number of insects.