Owens Valley Edible Gardens
Here is some basic information to get started with composting. The best results in composting occur when the optimum balance between carbon and nitrogen, air and water, are met.
Browns (carb0n) - This is simply a source of carbon, and can be from all kinds of sources - paper, straw, wood, fallen leaves, used coffee filters etc.
Greens (nitrogen) - This is simply a source of nitrogen, and can be from all kinds of sources, too - grass clippings, used coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit scraps, dry dog food, dry molasses, and alfalfa meal or pellets, etc.
Combine your ingredients in a pile of at least 3’x3’x3’ (cubic yard). Mix the ingredients along with water (not soaked but very moist). Chop, shred, or reduce the size of any ingredient added to the pile, because this gives the microbes more surface area to work with, and also increases bio mass compression. Keep an eye out for matted conditions. Remember you also need some air flow. Add twigs/straw to break up continuity of the matting.
What needs to happen is a break down of the combined ingredients. To make this break down occur, they need to heat up (110` to 160`degrees is optimum). The heating is the microbes breaking down the carbon and nitrogen with the aide of air and moisture. Think of the carbon as the fuel and the nitrogen as the fire. You will need much more fuel than fire. The air supplies the oxygen and the moisture is the spark. If it’s hot and cooking, than you are composting.
A well mixed and active compost pile can be ready for garden use in about 6-10 weeks. You may consider screening your compost for fine material. The larger material can be used as good organic mulch.
Repeat the process for future use.