Backyard Composting

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Composting occurs naturally in nature. In a wooded area, leaves fall to the ground and form mulch that protects the soil. Over time, the leaves decompose into nutrients that feed forest plants. We can help mimic nature’s recycling program. It is easy and can be fun watching materials transition into a rich soil amendment. Composting is beneficial in many ways. It reduces the amount of garbage that is thrown away. Compost is used to recycle plants, food, and other materials to feed plants.

The composting process combines air, water, “brown” and “green” materials that breaks down to form food for plants in gardens. The brown composting material are items that are dead and high in the element, carbon. A few examples include dried plants, leaves, and pine needles. The green composting material are the items that are alive, and they are considered high in the element nitrogen. These items may include grass clippings, vegetables and fruit.

There are many items that can be added to a compost pile to help make it successful. These include apples, bananas, banana peels, fruits, vegetable peelings, bread, noodles, rice, coffee grounds, rice, eggshells, flowers, grass clippings, leaves, tea bags and filters. Items that should not be composted include meat, fish, greasy or fried foods, cheese, milk, yogurt, oils, bones, and animal droppings. Adding these items can attract unwanted critters to the compost pile. For more information on composting visit NC State Extension’s Composting section.