How to start a compost pile in Arizona
Phoenix opened its first composting facility in April 2017. Although this service is not widely available across the valley, many cities in the Greater Phoenix area, such as Mesa, Phoenix, and Tempe, are offering $5 or free composting bins to people so we can start composting right in our backyard. You can contact your city to request for one. If you live in other areas, you can still compost with other types of bin or without a bin at all (trench composting).
Aside from reducing waste to landfill, finished compost can be used as fertilizer or potting soil because it is very rich in nutrient (Hence the name black gold).
All raw organic materials experience decomposition and turn into compost when exposed to decomposers, such as bacteria, fungi, and worms. More about the science behind composting.
How to start composting
- Obtain a composting container from the city
- Gather your organic materials to be composted. (Bigger pieces should be shredded or chopped down to pieces no bigger than 4”)
- Compostable materials are separated into brown and green. Browns are carbon-rich materials, such as fall leaves, straw, dryer lint, and paper. Greens are high in nitrogen. Some examples are grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and eggshells. You should have more browns than greens for optimal efficiency.
- Some organic materials should not be composted to avoid attracting rodents or vermin to your house and prevent the spread of unwanted germs in your backyard. This includes animal feces, meat, bones, fatty products, and fireplace ash.
- Put the materials into the bin with some native soil.
- Keep adding materials while waiting for the compost to be finished (usually 3-6 months). Finished compost should look dark and smell woody with a hint of sweetness.
More information about composting: https://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az1632-2014.pdf