Backyard composting
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MECKLENBURG COUNTY SOLID WASTE AUTHORITY. Backyard Composting. Producing your own “Black Gold”. The Natural Cycle. Leaves Decomposing. The breakdown releases nutrients. Backyard Composting. Where to place your compost pile. Within reach of a garden hose Convenient to your house

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Backyard Composting

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Backyard Composting

Producing your own “Black Gold”

The Natural Cycle

Leaves Decomposing

The breakdown releases nutrients

Backyard Composting

Where to place your compost pile

  • Within reach of a garden hose

  • Convenient to your house

  • If possible, away from trees or bushes (roots will find compost)

  • At least 30’ from streams, wells or lakes (nitrogen runoff)

  • Be considerate of your neighbor’s view

  • Think: Two Piles

Materials for making a bin

Measure out 12 ½ feet of wire

Cut one end flush, one w/prongs

Set upright forming a cylinder

Fasten ends w/prongs facing out

Completed bin

Start with a layer of leaves

Easy measuring: 3 sections = 1’

Break up any clumps

50 lbs provides organic nitrogen

Sprinkle some on top of first layer

Use pellets instead of meal

Mix pellets into the leaves

As damp as a wrung out sponge

Add another layer of leaves

Each layer approximately 1’

More pellets

Mix together

Add water to each layer

Cap with final layer of leaves

Completed batch

Adding kitchen scraps

Place scraps into the hole

Push down into the pile

Cover scraps with leaves

Mark the spot for reference

Pile heats up, volume decreases

Turning the pile

  • Turn one week after assembling

  • Turn at least every three to four weeks

  • The more you turn the pile, the faster it will decompose

  • If you have more than one pile, you can combine piles as they decrease in volume

Unfasten the prongs

Unwrap the pile

Set up near first pile

Toss the pile back into the bin

Add water, if necessary

Pile starting to breakdown

Worms love compost

Compost in action

Less fertilizer needed

Compost loosens our clay soils

What can go into a compost pile?

  • Leaves

  • Fruit/vegetable peels, stems

  • Spoiled fruit and vegetables

  • Egg shells

  • Coffee grounds and filters

  • Tea leaves and bags

  • Hard-shelled nuts (crushed)

What can go into a compost pile?

  • Peanut Shells

  • Clam and oyster shells (ground)

  • Canning/preserving wastes

  • Stale bread

  • Used napkins/paper towels

  • Manure from horses, cows and chickens

  • Recycled compost

What should not be included:

  • Dog droppings

  • Cat litter and droppings

  • Charcoal Ashes

  • Chemically treated plant material

  • Invasive weeds and plants

  • Diseased or infested plants

  • Glossy slick paper

  • Poisonous or thorny plants

Where to use your compost

  • New garden beds and plantings

    • Dig in 2-3” of compost in top 6”

  • Vegetable gardens/transplants

    • 2-3” on beds and some in each hole

  • Existing garden beds

    • 1” layer around plants

Where to use your compost

  • Natural areas

    • ½” under mulch

  • Side dressings trees/shrubs

    • Scratch ½” from 1” out from the stem or trunk of plant out to drip line

  • Lawns

    • After aeration, spread ½” of compost and rake in

  • Houseplants

    • 2/3 potting soil, 1/3 compost

Other uses:

  • Compost Tea

  • Unfinished Compost



  • Can be bred easily at home or school

  • Can be used to recycle organic waste from your kitchen into valuable fertilizer

  • Produce castings which have a neutral pH (around 7)

  • Castings increase the amount of nutrient available to your plants by up to 10 times.

  • Castings increase crop and pasture yields

  • Increase the level of essential microbial activity in the soil

  • Consume their own body weight in food every day

  • Double in population every 2-3 months, in ideal conditions

  • What do I need?

    • An aerated container

    • Bedding such as shredded newspaper

    • Moisture and proper temperature

    • Small amount of soil

    • Redworms (Eisenia fetida)

  • Q&A

Compost Central

704 588 5898

Steve Elliot


704 814 0877

[email protected]

Mecklenburg County Solid Waste Authority

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