Composting: You can save cash and your lawn

Composting: You can save cash and your lawnComposting: You can save cash and your lawn

Tony Ramsey choices up a handful of compost Monday afternoon at Dwelling Acres, an agricultural compost merchandise facility in New Sharon. Russ Dillingham/Solar Magazine

Composting is straightforward, proper? You throw your kitchen waste right into a heap and let it rot.

Sorry, that’s rubbish. Actually.

Ask soil scientist Tony Ramsey, a qualified composter in New Sharon. Sure, skilled.

“If it’s no longer controlled, it’s no longer compost,” Ramsey stated in a up to date telephone interview. “It’s a rubbish pile.”

Wait, let’s again up. What’s with composting, you ask? And why is everybody telling you to do it, you additionally ask?

There’s a compost bin stuffed with causes whilst you dig into it, and it’s no longer all about gardening.


Sure, composting your meals waste, leaves, and so forth. will give you loose subject matter to improve your soil and advertise plant enlargement. It reduces the will for insecticides and artificial fertilizers. It recycles vitamins again into the soil. And it promotes a wholesome ecosystem.

However, it additionally reduces waste and makes us much less depending on landfills. What would occur if everybody composted? In line with the U.S. Composting Council, if everybody within the nation composted their meals waste, the affect will be the identical as taking 7.8 million vehicles off the street.

Ramsey has been composting for almost 40 years at his farm, Dwelling Acres, the place he runs a business operation and gives categories on large-scale composting.

So, what’s compost?

Ask a scientist and also you’ll get a systematic solution: It comes to nitrogen and carbon and fungi cooking your scraps right into a brew that “supplies water maintaining and nutrient maintaining for soil,” Ramsey says.

Soil is made up of minerals, nearly devoid of carbon. So that you can get that “skin-of-the-Earth” subject matter that can enrich the soil and lend a hand issues develop, you wish to have so as to add natural topic, he stated.


You want vegetables and browns. And herein lies one of the crucial secrets and techniques to a hit composting.

Vegetables, which offer nitrogen, come with vegetable waste, grass clippings, fruit scraps and low grounds. Browns akin to lifeless leaves, branches and twigs supply carbon.

Your compost pile must have equivalent quantities of browns and vegetables, in line with’s Composting at House. The 2 kinds of subject matter must be layered. You additionally wish to upload water to lend a hand damage down the natural topic.

The U.S. Environmental Coverage Company encourages composting as an Earth-friendly endeavor, no longer only a gardening endeavor.


Tony Ramsey holds a decomposing lobster shell just lately that he pulled out of one of the crucial compost piles at his facility in New Sharon. Russ Dillingham/Solar Magazine


“Meals scraps and backyard waste in combination make up greater than 30% of what we throw away, and might be composted as an alternative,” in line with the EPA. “Making compost assists in keeping those fabrics out of landfills the place they soak up house and free up methane, a potent greenhouse fuel.”

And also you don’t want “natural” subject matter within the sense that it’s grown with out insecticides, Ramsey stated.

“The rest no longer knowingly infected may also be composted,” he stated. “Normally, there’s no actual fear about residual insecticides, even from fabrics grown with chemical fertilizer or different pesticides. There’s not anything in meals waste to be all for.”

In reality, in spite of the traditional knowledge, you’ll upload meat and dairy in your compost.

Merchandise wealthy in protein make nice compost by way of boosting the carbon degree and serving to with decomposition, Ramsey stated.

However provided that you recognize what you’re doing and concentrate. And therein lies any other secret.


“The issue is that when you don’t stability the method and don’t get it scorching, it could draw in rodents,” he stated. “You must finally end up with skunks or rats.”

“Scorching” refers back to the decomposition of the fabrics, which supplies off warmth. Too scorching manner it’s freeing an excessive amount of warmth too speedy. If composting manure, this may free up ammonia vapor that can inhibit root building, he stated.

This balancing is one reason the EPA and others counsel no longer the usage of meat or dairy; many of us aren’t cautious about how they formulate their compost, Ramsey stated.

“They don’t at all times use sufficient drying subject matter (sawdust, hay). If it’s too rainy and sticky and there’s no longer sufficient carbon, it could putrefy.”

So when you use protein, stay it smartly buried and upload sufficient carbon — lifeless leaves and twigs — so it’s scorching however no longer too scorching and no longer too dry.

Air is also vital within the decomposition procedure.


This implies you need to flip the pile every so often to get air into what’s at the backside. Or you’ll arrange a device of black plastic pipes to let air into the ground of the pile, Ramsey stated.

He stated the pile must be coated as a result of if it will get too rainy it’s going to get too heavy and sticky. “It will get nasty.”


Too rainy and no longer sufficient air are the commonest issues for yard composters, Ramsey stated, which is able to happen when the usage of the open pile way.

Sandy Dyer of New Gloucester stated she didn’t have nice good fortune with composting in a rotating drum, however is extra a hit with a composting bin inside of her fenced-in lawn. Sandy Dyer picture

However Sandy Dyer of New Gloucester swears by way of an open pile because the “best possible and perfect” option to compost. “I’ve attempted a barrel bin that may be turned around, however didn’t have a lot good fortune with it breaking down into usable compost,” she stated.


If you select to make use of an open pile, you must construct it to be about 4 toes prime, 4 toes extensive and four toes deep to effectively compost “the entirety you throw at it,” in line with The Previous Farmer’s Almanac’s Information to Composting at House.

However one of the simplest ways to compost is to have a devoted construction to stay all of it contained, akin to a dice manufactured from wooden pallets or a “purpose-built” plastic bin, in line with It’s additionally imaginable to compost proper to your lawn mattress.

That’s what Dyer does. She has been composting for a minimum of 45 years.

“I lived on a farm the place I discovered natural farming from my landlady/just right buddy. She had sheep, goats, chickens, geese, ducks and a pony,” Dyer stated.

She stated the manure from those animals was once shoveled out of the barn and she or he and her buddy would dig to the ground for the composted subject matter.

“There have been heaps of tiny and large worms (an indication of excellent compost) and it smelled earthy and candy,” she stated. “We used it within the spring on her raised mattress gardens.”


Dyer now has her personal small farm the place she constructed a composting bin inside of her fenced-off lawn.

“I used pallets to create a double open bin,” she stated. “I can use one aspect and switch the compost to the opposite aspect to combine and aerate it.”

Composting your personal subject matter — she makes use of most commonly vegetable scraps — is best possible as a result of you recognize precisely what’s in it, she stated.

And that’s vital.

“Once I began my lawn right here years in the past, I had a trailer load of what was once meant to be composted cow manure from native farm” she stated. “Seems it was once sawdust and urine most commonly and NOT composted. Ruined my lawn for 4 years as the entire nitrogen was once sucked out by way of the sawdust.”

In compliance with EPA pointers, Dyer does no longer compost meat.


She makes use of grass clippings or even hair, which upload nitrogen. However some “brown” such things as woody stems take for much longer to wreck down, over a yr in some circumstances, she stated.

“In a different way to compost is I let my chickens do it,” Dyer stated. “I feed them scraps that I don’t compost, and so they scratch their very own waste into the bottom. I will be able to use soil from their outdoor run on my gardens as a mulch topcoat to fertilize with.”

Sandy Dyer of New Gloucester says her chickens lend a hand her along with her composting. Sandy Dyer picture


Lee Holman of Hartford has been composting for almost 50 years.

“At the beginning . . . it’s the proper factor to do for the surroundings,” she stated. “It additionally gets rid of heaps of waste from the municipal waste move, and that and recycling are one of the crucial few price facilities the place people may have an affect.


“2d is the truth that the ensuing product is black gold for my lawn.”

Holman composts “all way of manures (aside from canine waste) and meals waste.” She makes use of piles, which she turns from time to time, she stated.

She stated she from time to time additionally makes use of a construction. 3-sided pallet buildings are nice, she stated.

“One can lay up poles like Lincoln logs in a sq.,” she stated. “This works smartly and may also be added to because the pile grows or taken down because the pile shrinks, which it’s going to because it rots.”

She makes use of a dung fork to show the fabric for aeration, she stated, “if I am getting round to it. Or no longer. In reality, I stay cattle, so I’ve a large number of manure and hay, which is able to damage down by itself given time.”

She advises including “scorching” fabrics, akin to garden clippings, horse manure, or different manures to get the pile activated.


And for other people running with small areas, “there are a lot of units to make composting extra interesting,” Holman stated. “I’ve additionally saved a trojan horse bin for kitchen scraps, and that may paintings in reality smartly and the ensuing compost is superb stuff.”

Trojan horse composting is the easy technique of feeding meals scraps to worms, in line with Cornell Composting, a useful resource for lecture room composting. The scraps transform compost because the worms digest the meals.

All you wish to have is a field, wet newspaper strips, and worms. Bedding, manufactured from newspaper strips or leaves, will hang moisture and comprise air areas very important to worms. Purple wrigglers or pink worms are really helpful.

Holman makes use of her compost as a soil modification and to make compost tea for watering person vegetation.

Compost tea is a liquid produced by way of extracting microorganisms from compost the usage of a brewing procedure, in line with the place a recipe is to be had.

It’s a bit of like nutrients for other people, in line with the web site.


“A real compost tea incorporates all the organisms that had been provide within the compost ahead of brewing. The brewed water extract must even have soluble vitamins from the compost.”

Whether or not you employ an open pile, a bin or a pallet construction, composting is one of the simplest ways to take on the “nearly diabolical drawback” of many years of soil and air contamination, Ramsey stated.

“Composting is a option to carry stability again into your ecosystem,” he stated. “The rest you’ll do to advertise this is just right.”

A number of piles of compost in quite a lot of levels of processing take a seat in a barn at Dwelling Acres in New Sharon. Russ Dillingham/Solar Magazine

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