What is Composting?
Composting harnesses the natural process of decomposition, recycling organic materials like vegetable scraps and leaves into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner. Controlling the conditions of the compost pile or compost bin can speed up the process. Read more about composting on the Oldham County Extension blog.
Compost can be used for outdoor gardening, potting houseplants, and starting seeds. If using compost to build better soil, add compost to the garden annually. Spring or fall is the best time to add compost. For potted plants, compost should make up less than 30% of the potting media. Unfinished compost can be used as mulch. Making and Using Compost highlights how to compost as well as the many reasons to use a compost bin.
What Can I Compost?
The following organic materials make acceptable additions to your compost bin:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Egg shells
- Grass clippings
What NOT to Compost
Materials that should NOT be added to compost piles include human and pet feces, which can transmit diseases. Meat, bones, whole eggs, or dairy products should not be added as they may attract rodents.
Commercial microbial preparations (compost starters) that claim to enhance composting are unnecessary -- the microbes responsible for decomposition are everywhere. You can get a faster startup of microbes by mixing a small amount of soil or finished compost in with the material to be composted.
What is Vermicomposting?
Vermicomposting is worm-powered composting. Worm castings, vermicompost, make excellent plant growth media due to excellent aeration, porosity, structure, drainage, and moisture-holding capacity. Read about earthworm castings as plant growth media.
Like composting, successful vermicomposting occurs in a controlled environment. You will need to place appropriate bedding material in a shallow bin. View this guide on Constructing a Worm Compost Bin. Shredded corrugated cardboard makes the best worm bedding, but shredded paper and newspaper will also work. Bedding must remain moist.
Redworms, also know as red wigglers, are the best kind of worms to use for vermicomposting as they adapt best to the conditions of a worm bin. Read an Overview on Vermicomposting or check out our Worm Composting blog post.
What does vermicomposting look like? Check out this 20-day time lapse of worms creating compost.
Home Composting Guides
Read the Benefits of Composting on the Oldham County Extension blog.
Home Composting: A Guide to Managing Yard Waste -- understand the conditions your compost pile needs; learn how to build a compost containment structure or compost bin; compost troubleshooting
Livestock Manure as Compost study entitled "Potential for Livestock and Poultry Manure to Provide the Nutrients Removed by Crops and Forages in Kentucky."
Composting in the Classroom is a free downloadable book by Cornell Extension. This compost guide is intended for high school teachers conducting compost research.