How to Compost

By Catherine Bryan 
GreenEriePA Writer

What is Composting?
Composting is a process through which people make use of nature's normal decomposition to create rich soil fertilizers from our kitchen, home, and yard waste materials. The process is in its essence incredibly simple: gather safe waste from your home, kitchen, or yard into a bin, pile, or pit and let nature do the rest. To get more effective composting, however, can take a little elbow grease and some know-how. 
In fact, Environment Erie holds composting workshops in the Erie area occasionally where they give out free composters to those who attend the workshop. This would be a free and convenient way to get started on composting those items that do not need to be thrown into the garbage can.


Why Should I Compost? Composting...

Reduces landfill waste (1/3 of all landfill waste is compostable) and cuts down on emissions from transportation of waste.

Recycles household and yard waste (Up to 30% of waste can be composted and skip the bin altogether). This is especially beneficial if you pay for your garbage by the pound or can.

Adds important nutrients to your lawn and garden (and saves on store-bought fertilizer too).

Makes fertilizer that is effective without any of the harmful chemicals present in store-bought fertilizers.

Introduces beneficial micro-organisms into the soil that can improve quality and ward off plant disease.



Composting Part 1: (Penn State Extension) An informative video on what materials can be used to create compost and what materials cannot be used. Also included is a procedure on how to efficiently create healthy compost that can then be used as soil/fertilizer in a garden.

Composting Part 2: (Penn State Extension) An explanation on problems that may be encountered while composting materials and what can be done to solve the problem.

Vermi Composting MP3: (Penn State Extension) 50 second interview/introduction to vermi composting that describes what it is, how it works, and why we should do it.

Composting 101: This website deals with some of the more practical considerations before composting, especially in the city: placement of bins in terms of aesthetics, courtesy, and efficiency; types of bins (including DIY bins); and ways to speed up your compost. It provides detailed support for issues dealing with the startup of a compost collection.

Earth Easy's "Grow Compost" Article: This article combines detail on what to compost and how best to compost it, including a

no-nonsense, no-worry guide to frequently used green and brown compost material. This article offers a variety of approaches to composting for all levels of interest from a simple no turn pile to the heavy duty do-it-yourself bin.

Compost Instructions.Com: Readers can post questions about composting to be answered by other composters. The blog has posts answering popular questions, such as: Should I use a bin or a pile? What can't I compost? How do I correct problems with my compost? How do I use my compost effectively? And many more.

All Photos Courtesy of Carolyn McIntyre