Adapted from Environmental Bulletin, Texas Water Commission, edited by Ed Bradley
What is Composting?
Composting is a simple biological process that breaks down leaves, grass clippings, brush and wood chips, and food scraps into a dark, odorless, nutrient-rich organic product. It is nature’s way of recycling organic matter and returning it to the earth for reuse. Bacteria are living organisms which contribute to the natural recycling process of the organic wastes.
Composting preserves landfill space. Approximately 18 percent of the solid waste generated in the U.S. each year is made up of yard wastes. An even greater percentage occurs in the peak month of yard waste production (summer and fall months). Diverting these wastes from landfills reduces waste collection and disposal costs.
How Are Compost Piles Made?
A compost pile may be started directly on the ground surface, using a container or structure which will save space, hasten decomposition, and keep the yard looking neat. The following steps describe how to construct a simple compost pile:
A properly made pile will reach temperatures up to 160 degrees in several days. The composting process may last from a few weeks to many months, depending upon the types of materials used for compost, water requirements, and how often the pile is turned. When compost is ready to use, it will appear dark, brown, crumbly, and will have an earthy smell. Let the material sit for a few extra days to stabilize it. Apply 2 - 3” layers of compost to your garden or around trees and shrubs. Treat your lawn by spreading ½” of sifted compost over a given area in the spring.
When Making or Using Compost, DON’T: