Hi I'm an 8th grade student in Beresford middle school and I'm trying to research for a project that will eliminate waste/ shorten our carbon footprint. Our questions are: How do you keep us wanted animals out of the bins? What kind of foods can you not compost? How do you tell when the compost is complete? Are there any things besides food that can be composted? What size do you recommend for the compost bin? Thanks!
Union County South Dakota
So for the first question, never put meat scraps, fat, or other things on this order into your compost. There are ways to compost animal biproducts but I am only going to cover composting for the backyard gardener. Animals will not be attracted to a typical compost as long as meat scraps are not added. Bones and large twigs can take a very long time to compost so they also should be avoided also. Besides most kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, newspaper (not typically shiny papers) can also be composted. It is important to put in layers of "green items" and brown materials to keep the compost working. Occasionally water may need to be added if the materials going in are very dry. A compost bin can be any size that is convenient for the owner. Obviously small yards will not have room for a large compost bin. As the material should be turned at least once, I like to have a bin big enough to have two sections and so that a shovel can be used to turn the material from one bin into the other. What you will find is the material towards the bottom of the bin will be dark and look mostly like good soil, while the material on the top can look just as it did when it was put into the bin. Turning the material gets the uncomposted stuff down so that the microorganisms and the worms can do the work of breaking the material down. The time it takes for materials to compost depends on what the materials are and the amount of material you are trying to compost. Also, by putting some already composted material into the mix as you add materials can speed up the process as there are already good microbes that are ready to "eat " the new materials.
I have also added a link for an IGrow article that you may find useful
Hope this helps,