The composting process converts raw organic material into a decayed, nutrient-rich mixture called "compost" that is beneficial to plants when added to soil. This is a guide for composting at Cavell Garden which has a membership of over 30 beds, composting guidelines would be different if you were composting at home. Here we encourage members only to add plants from their communal garden plots and leave it up to the Compost Team to add anything else.
To maintain a healthy composting system at Cavell Garden, there are two sets of guidelines, one for all members and one for the Compost Team.
1. Guidelines for all Garden members (basic practices):
Members may add any organic plants, either fresh or dried, that come from their Cavell plot.
All items must be cut or torn in small pieces less than 2 inches square otherwise they will not break down into compost and the bins will fill up too quickly.
Do not add any other material (NO items from home; NO weeds; NO plants gone to seed; NO plants treated with pesticides or diseased; NO "brown" items).
Members are not to bring items from home because Cavell has a large number of members and a limited amount of space in the compost bins.
2. Guidelines for Compost Team members only (expanded practices toward properly maintaining the compost):
Add to the active compost bins:
Green and brown items, as needed, in layer fashion, always finishing with a layer of ‘browns’ (ideal ratio for each bin is 50:50).
Examples of brown (i.e., carbon-heavy) items include: dried leaves, grass cuttings, newsprint, paper, coffee grounds, sawdust (from untreated wood), peanut shells.
Examples of ‘green’ (i.e., nitrogen-heavy) items include: organic plants, coffee grounds, tea bags, fruit.
Mineral-heavy items, e.g., seaweed, egg shells (well-rinsed)
Organic items only
Small/shredded/torn items only. All items must be cut or torn in small pieces less than 2 inches square otherwise they will not break down into compost and the bins will fill up too quickly leaving no room for other people.
Worms at the beginning of the season
Do not add weeds, diseased plants, clippings from fertilized lawns, leaves from driveways/roadsides and other possible chemical-containing additions.
Nothing else should be added
Turn/stir regularly (i.e., once a week) to oxygenate pile
Water as needed. The pile should feel damp, like a wrung-out sponge. If a handful of the compost mixture is squeezed, only a little liquid should run out.