Composting is the product resulting from the controlled biological decomposition or organic materials that has been sanitized through the generation of heat and stabilized to the point that it is beneficial to plant growth, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“One of the biggest tricks and reason why people fail in composting,” said Brian Hastie from the horticulture department at the PCC at LBCC.

“To create good compost, your pile must have the correct carbon to nitrogen ratio.

This is achieved by adding proper amounts of carbon (brown) materials and nitrogen (green) materials.”

A good ratio to keep in mind is two buckets of dense nitrogen (green) to one packed bucket of carbon (brown).

The reason we say packed is because a packed bucket of leaves equals about four buckets of loose leaves.

“This is obviously just a guideline and the composter can experiment with these ratios to achieve the perfect pile.  Just remember, if you use too many green materials you will have a stinky pile that is slow to break down and if you use too many brown materials, your pile will do next to nothing and be very slow to break down.”

“To build a compost pile, you first need to start collecting your raw materials.  Carbon or brown materials you can use in your compost piles include leaves, straw, newspaper, sawdust, wood chips, twigs and pine needles. Nitrogen or green materials include manure, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and clippings from plants, weeds and food scraps.”

The best way to start off a pile is to experiment and known the correct ratio. It is as simple as mixing the materials in a corner of the yard or purchasing or building bins to hold the materials.

Some composting tricks recommended by Hastie include if a pile, is stinky add carbon or brown materials and mix thoroughly.

If the pile is doing a whole lot of nothing and not heating up, then gardeners should add nitrogen or green materials and mix thoroughly.

Larger composite piles allow for more leeway in the proper ratio materials due to their mass and their ability to create high temperatures, which is needed for decomposition.

A healthy pile can reach internal temperatures of 140 degrees.

Things not to add to the pile include invasive grass and weeds, weeds that have flower parts or seeds, animal waste, dairy product, large branches, contaminated materials such as pesticides, meat products and plastic, metal or glass.

Some benefits to composting include the reduction of garbage.

According to the EPA, composting helps reduce the overall garbage destine to the landfill by up to 65 percent along with reducing methane production, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2. Composting benefits the soil’s physical structure, benefits the soil chemistry and cleans up contaminants.

To find a compost program, gardeners may check their city or log on to