The composting process requires:
- Organic material
- Soil organisms
You do not have to do much more than alternate layers of organic waste: green (high nitrogen) materials and brown (high carbon) materials. Thin layers of soil can be added if needed. This will increase the number of soil organisms in the pile. Keep moist and turn frequently to provide an adequate air supply.
The composting process will be more effective if you follow these suggestions.
To get started, make a layer of leaves or other brown vegetation. Then add a layer of green plant material. Add kitchen wastes as they accumulate. Dig these into the pile or cover with a thin layer of soil.
Continue adding material, alternating layers of brown material, green yard waste and kitchen waste. Brown yard waste is generally high in carbon. Kitchen scraps and fresh yard waste are high in nitrogen. Both carbon and nitrogen are needed to build a balanced compost pile. Fine materials such as grass clippings should be added in thin layers so that they do not compact.
Keep the material as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Covering the pile with a plastic sheet may help to retain moisture. Water the pile occasionally if it becomes too dry.
Turn the pile every few weeks or whenever it becomes compacted, too wet, or develops an odour. A garden fork, commercial aerator, rake or pitchfork can be used to keep the pile properly turned and aerated. Mix the material from the edges of the pile into the middle for more even decomposition.
Excerpts from the publication, Alberta Taking Action Through Backyard Composting to Reduce Household Waste used with permission of Alberta Environment.