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Home Composting
Materials for composting
To avoid nuisances and odors, select the materials for your compost pile with care.

 Yes  No
 Grass clippings  Dairy products
 Leaves-shredded, if possible  Oils and fats
 Spent flowers & garden clippings  Meat, fish, bones
 Young weeds (without seeds)  Pet manure; Cat litter
 Hedge trimmings  Cooked food
 Fruit & vegetable peelings  Diseased plants
 Lettuce leaves  Black walnut leaves
 Coffee grounds, filters & tea bags  Bread
 Fertilizer  Weeds with seeds
 Soil or compost  Invasive weeds
     
For an ideal composting mix, combine shredded leaves (50% of total volume), green grass clippings, (25% of total volume). Start with available yard clippings and add other materials, as needed, to balance the pile.

The "green" materials have a high nitrogen content which typically causes the pile to heat up and decompose more quickly. To avoid odors, make sure that green materials are mixed thoroughly with brown materials and soil.

Building the Compost Pile
To build the pile, follow these steps: 
  1. Start with a layer of organic materials such as shredded leaves, grass, or other garden debris.
  2. Water the layer until it is as moist as a wrung-out sponge.
  3. Add 2"-3" of soil or compost-to provide microorganisms.
  4. If possible, mix all materials together as you build the pile.
  5. Continue the process of adding organic materials, soil, and water until the bin is filled. Add grass clippings in small amounts and mix in thoroughly.
  6. Water each layer...and check moisture periodically. Build the pile to a size of 3'x3'x3' or slightly larger-or fill the compost bin.

Turning the Pile
Turning and mixing the compost pile with a pitchfork or compost turner adds oxygen and accelerates the rate of decomposition. The pile may be turned once a week, once a month, several times a year, or not at all. If the pile is turned over and mixed from time-to-time and kept moist, finished compost is usually available in six to nine months.

Don't worry about the temperature of the pile-either hot or cold composting yields beneficial compost.

Benefits of Compost
Compost is an excellent soil conditioner. When mixed with sandy soil, compost helps to retain and hold water. When mixed with clay soils, compost loosens the soil particles and improves drainage.

Compost is known as gardener's gold because it improves soil structure, retains water, encourages root growth, aerates soil, releases nutrients slowly, supports beneficial microorganisms and earthworms, and suppresses some soil borne diseases.

Source: Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority (SOCRRA)

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