Maintaining a healthy compost comes down to five basics. These include the ingredients that you put into your compost, the size of the material, moisture, temperature and air.
The microbes that digest compostable materials gobble up ‘green’ nitrogen-rich ingredients and ‘brown’ carbon-rich ingredients. The key to a healthy compost is to aim for a ratio of one part green to two parts brown, which is easy to do when you know which materials contain what.
Green materials are those that are generally wet, like vegetable peelings, grass cuttings and plant trimmings. Brown materials are dry and woody, like leaves, twigs and cardboard.
Too much green makes for a smelly and wet compost; too much brown will cause the compost to be too dry and it will decompose very slowly.
Size of the material
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” goes the saying. So too for microbes. Smaller pieces of material have a greater surface area, which the microbes can access and work on. This makes for faster and more effective composting.
Shred or tear up newspaper and cardboard, cut up large chunks of vegetable waste – like pumpkin peel – into smaller pieces, and shred leaves using a lawnmower or garden shredder before putting them into your YOLO GREEN Compost Tumbler. These smaller pieces will also be incorporated more efficiently.
The microbes working on your compost require a moist, not dry, environment. But, how do you know whether your compost is moist enough? Squeeze a handful of your compost. It should feel moist but not wet. If drops of water squeeze out, it is way too wet. Add dry materials, like twigs, dry leaves and cardboard to absorb the moisture.
If your compost is too dry and crumbly, add a little water or more moisture-rich green materials, like vegetable peelings and grass trimmings, and give your YOLO Compost Tumbler a spin to mix the contents.
Leave very wet materials, like watermelon rinds, in the sun to dry out before tossing them in.
A benefit of the closed environment of the YOLO Compost Tumbler is that temperatures are higher than that of a pile (that’s why earthworms must not be added to a compost tumbler – the heat will kill them). Higher temperatures result in faster composting and also serve to kill plant diseases and weed seeds to make a healthier compost.
Like you and me, aerobic bacteria need oxygen to do their work. These are the microbes that we want in our compost. Fresh air is introduced into the YOLO Compost Tumbler through aeration holes on the sides of the bin and also every time you open the lid to add new material.
Maintaining a compost heap isn’t rocket science but there are a few principles that need to be followed. By ensuring that your compost has the correct green:brown ratio, that the material you add is broken up into small pieces, it is not too wet (or dry), that it is warm and that the microbes have sufficient oxygen, you’re well on your way to composting success.