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5 common composting mistakes and how to avoid them

5 common composting mistakes and how to avoid them

Composting is a fantastic way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. However, newcomers to composting often encounter a few common issues that can hinder the process. 

Here's a look at five typical composting mistakes and tips on how to avoid them, ensuring your composting efforts are fruitful and hassle-free.

  1. Not Balancing Greens and Browns

Mistake: One of the most common composting mistakes is not maintaining the right balance between green (nitrogen-rich) materials and brown (carbon-rich) materials. Too many greens can lead to a smelly, slimy compost, while too many browns can slow down the decomposition process.

Solution: Aim for a balance, typically recommended as a 3:1 ratio of browns to greens. This means for every bucket of kitchen scraps (greens), add three buckets of dried leaves, straw, or shredded paper (browns).

  1. Ignoring Moisture Levels

Mistake: Another issue is letting the compost become too wet or too dry. Overly wet compost can become anaerobic and smelly, while compost that’s too dry won’t decompose efficiently.

Solution: Your compost pile should feel like a wrung-out sponge – moist but not dripping. If it’s too dry, add water or more green materials. If it’s too wet, add more browns to absorb excess moisture and improve airflow.

  1. Lack of Aeration

Mistake: Compost needs oxygen to decompose properly. A lack of aeration can lead to a smelly, anaerobic process that slows decomposition.

Solution: Regularly turn your compost pile with a garden fork to introduce air. Doing this once a week can significantly improve the composting process and reduce odours.

  1. Adding Inappropriate Materials

Mistake: Adding materials that don’t compost well can introduce pests, create odours, or even harm your compost’s quality. Common culprits include meat, dairy products, and oily foods.

Solution: Stick to compostable materials like fruit and vegetable scraps, yard trimmings, coffee grounds, eggshells, and certified compostable packaging. Be cautious about adding diseased plants or treated wood, as these can also cause issues.

  1. Impatience with the Process

Mistake: Composting takes time, and impatience can lead to frustration. Some beginners may give up too soon or try to use unfinished compost.

Solution: Give your compost time to fully decompose before using it. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s dark, crumbly, and has an earthy smell.

Final Thoughts

Composting is an art and science that benefits your garden and the environment. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure your composting process is efficient and rewarding.

Remember, every compost pile is unique, so don’t be afraid to experiment and learn what works best for your setup.

Happy composting!