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Backyard Composting

MECKLENBURG COUNTY SOLID WASTE AUTHORITY. Backyard Composting. Producing your own “Black Gold”. The Natural Cycle. Leaves Decomposing. The breakdown releases nutrients. Backyard Composting. Where to place your compost pile. Within reach of a garden hose Convenient to your house

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Backyard Composting

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  1. MECKLENBURG COUNTY SOLID WASTE AUTHORITY Backyard Composting Producing your own “Black Gold”

  2. The Natural Cycle

  3. Leaves Decomposing

  4. The breakdown releases nutrients

  5. Backyard Composting

  6. Where to place your compost pile • Within reach of a garden hose • Convenient to your house • If possible, away from trees or bushes (roots will find compost) • At least 30’ from streams, wells or lakes (nitrogen runoff) • Be considerate of your neighbor’s view • Think: Two Piles

  7. Materials for making a bin

  8. Measure out 12 ½ feet of wire

  9. Cut one end flush, one w/prongs

  10. Set upright forming a cylinder

  11. Fasten ends w/prongs facing out

  12. Completed bin

  13. Start with a layer of leaves

  14. Easy measuring: 3 sections = 1’

  15. Break up any clumps

  16. 50 lbs provides organic nitrogen

  17. Sprinkle some on top of first layer

  18. Use pellets instead of meal

  19. Mix pellets into the leaves

  20. As damp as a wrung out sponge

  21. Add another layer of leaves

  22. Each layer approximately 1’

  23. More pellets

  24. Mix together

  25. Add water to each layer

  26. Cap with final layer of leaves

  27. Completed batch

  28. Adding kitchen scraps

  29. Place scraps into the hole

  30. Push down into the pile

  31. Cover scraps with leaves

  32. Mark the spot for reference

  33. Pile heats up, volume decreases

  34. Turning the pile • Turn one week after assembling • Turn at least every three to four weeks • The more you turn the pile, the faster it will decompose • If you have more than one pile, you can combine piles as they decrease in volume

  35. Unfasten the prongs

  36. Unwrap the pile

  37. Set up near first pile

  38. Toss the pile back into the bin

  39. Add water, if necessary

  40. Pile starting to breakdown

  41. Worms love compost

  42. Compost in action

  43. Less fertilizer needed

  44. Compost loosens our clay soils

  45. What can go into a compost pile? • Leaves • Fruit/vegetable peels, stems • Spoiled fruit and vegetables • Egg shells • Coffee grounds and filters • Tea leaves and bags • Hard-shelled nuts (crushed)

  46. What can go into a compost pile? • Peanut Shells • Clam and oyster shells (ground) • Canning/preserving wastes • Stale bread • Used napkins/paper towels • Manure from horses, cows and chickens • Recycled compost

  47. What should not be included: • Dog droppings • Cat litter and droppings • Charcoal Ashes • Chemically treated plant material • Invasive weeds and plants • Diseased or infested plants • Glossy slick paper • Poisonous or thorny plants

  48. Where to use your compost • New garden beds and plantings • Dig in 2-3” of compost in top 6” • Vegetable gardens/transplants • 2-3” on beds and some in each hole • Existing garden beds • 1” layer around plants

  49. Where to use your compost • Natural areas • ½” under mulch • Side dressings trees/shrubs • Scratch ½” from 1” out from the stem or trunk of plant out to drip line • Lawns • After aeration, spread ½” of compost and rake in • Houseplants • 2/3 potting soil, 1/3 compost

  50. Other uses: • Compost Tea • Unfinished Compost

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