Best Season to Start Composting: Fall


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I procrastinated all Summer and never started a compost pile, so I was pleased to read that Fall is the best season to get one going. That was enough. I was on my way to Lowe’s for chicken wire and fence posts, and had one up in no time.

Composting yard waste and kitchen scraps is great a way to green up. It reduces the waste we send to the landfill, the impact caused by getting it there, and provides an organic fertilizer for our gardens – where we can grow our own food! And if you’ve got kids of any age, it’s a fun project that will get you outside, helping the environment, and talking about science.

Apparently, Fall is a great time to start a compost pile because there are so many dried leaves around (browns), yet we’re still mowing the yard and working in the garden (greens). A healthy pile must maintain a proper carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. This means balancing brown carbon-rich stuff (leaves, straw, twigs, stalks, and bark) with green nitrogen-rich stuff (fruit & vegetable waste, grass clippings, coffee grounds, garden waste, weeds, and hedge clippings). With all of these things readily available in the Fall, you almost have to start one!

I decided to use the old school method of composting – the pile. I looked into purchasing a bin, tumbler, barrel, and even worms, but in the end decided to stick to the basics. My pile should be about 3 x 3 x 2.5 when full, and held in place by stiff wire mesh. This is a small pile…ideally, it should be bigger and deeper. Despite that, I should be able to get a good balance of browns and greens over the next few months, and then let it cook until Spring. If the humidity and temperature of the pile are just right, the microorganisms will do their thing and turn our waste into nutrient-rich soil.

There are certain things you want to keep out of a compost pile, like meat, fish, dairy, fatty foods, pet waste, sick plants, coal ash, chemicals, and inorganic materials. It’s also a good idea to help your compost along by adding manure, compost, soil, or other starters.

I’m excited to try all of this. I’m sure I’ll make a mistake or two along the way, but it seams like fellow composters are coming out of the woodwork to help (thanks Bo!) I’m sure I’ll be posting again with my progress. If you feel up to it, start a pile of your own and let’s make Charleston a little greener together.

If you want to get started, check out Composting101.com. I also bookmarked University of Illinois, eHow.com, and CompostGuide.com, during my research.

Happy composting everyone!



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