All organic material eventually decomposes, but mixing green and brown materials together will speed up the process.
Green materials such as grass clippings or fresh green plant parts supply nitrogen. Brown materials such as dead leaves and plants are high in carbon.
Mixing the two assures good conditions for the microbes and fungi that actually decompose the plant material.
Composting has been taking place in forests since time began. Compost is ready when it looks like rich crumbly earth.
Composted matter creates natural openings or channels in the soil which improves the soil structure and drainage so that water and oxygen can penetrate the soil
and reach the roots promoting better root growth and increased absorption of rainfall and water. Commercial soil amendments cost money while leaves are free
and are abundant. If you take care of your soil, it will take care of your plants.
Potential problems & solutions
- If the compost has a bad odor, it may not have enough air, or the pile is staying too wet. To correct this turn the pile to introduce air or add coarse dry materials such as sawdust, straw, or chopped corn stalks to absorb moisture.
- If the heap is damp and sweet smelling but still doesn't heat up, it is lacking in nitrogen. Mix in a nitrogen source such as fresh grass clippings.
Materials that should not be put in the backyard compost pile because they may cause odors, attract pests, or create other nuisances include meat, fish,
poultry, cooked kitchen waste, grease, bones, fat, dairy products (such as butter, cheese, sour cream, yogurt), lard, peanut butter, salad dressing, mayonnaise,
vegetable oil, weeds with developed seed heads, diseased plants or leaves, poison ivy.