Composting

Backyard_Composting

Compost Options in Cochrane

Cochrane Eco Centre Compost Drop Off Programs

 Please sort materials into the appropriate bin and remove from any bags.

• Food Waste Drop Off (Year Round) 

• Grass Clippings Drop Off (April – November)

• Leaves Drop Off (April – November)

• Pumpkin Drop Off (October/November)

Backyard Composting

Composting breaks down organic waste from the kitchen, lawn and garden into a soil-like material called humus. It's done by microorganisms that consume the organic material to produce compost.

By composting in your backyard, you can turn your household waste into a valuable soil enhancement that offers many long-term benefits for your garden or lawn. Compost keeps soil loose or porous, helps soil retain water, maintains soil pH and adds nutrients.

You can purchase backyard compost bins at most hardware stores and at the Cochrane Eco Centre or better yet build your own.

1. Choose a convenient, level, well-drained and sunny area in your yard.

2. Start with a layer of finished compost or topsoil. This will provide the microorganisms needed to break down the organic material. There is no need for a chemical compost starter or activator.

3. Alternate layers of dried out "brown" material with moist "green" material. "Greens" (rich in nitrogen), are fresh plant materials such as green grass clippings and fresh kitchen waste. "browns" (rich in carbon), are dry and dead plant materials such as dried leaves, grass, plants and straw. You will need a mixture of both. A working recipe would be 1/3 to 1/2 "greens" to 1/2 to 2/3 "browns" by volume. Add another thin layer of finished compost or topsoil every so often.

4. The pile should be roughly one cubic metre in volume, approximately 1. 5 metres (3. 5 feet) x 1. 5 metres (3. 5 feet).

Aerate: Make sure your pile/bin gets enough air. This is necessary for the survival of the aerobic bacteria that break down the material without generating odours. This can be achieved by mixing in coarse material like leaves or green twigs to create air voids and periodically turning the pile with a pitchfork, shovel or compost turner. Turning the pile once every week or two should be enough. More frequent turning disrupts the composting process.

Water the pile: The pile should be as wet as a wrung out sponge. When you squeeze a handful, no drops of water should come out, but the compost should form a ball. It is most effective to water when you are adding materials or turning the pile. An undisturbed pile tends to shed water rather than absorb it. Without water, the microorganisms will die and decomposition will slow down or stop.

Too much water will also drown the aerobic bacteria and may cause unpleasant odours. To correct this, turn the mixture so that the excess water will either drain off or evaporate. Dry material can also be added to help absorb the water.

A hot compost pile is good: As the microorganisms consume the organic material, heat is produced as a byproduct. If you have a large enough volume of material with a good mix of brown and green material and adequate aeration and moisture, your compost pile will start to heat up on the inside, reaching temperatures as high as 40 to 45 degrees Celsius. This is how you know your composter is working. Compost thermometers are helpful, not essential.