BUILDING BLOCKS FOR BUILDING COMPOST
Use the bin provided by BNAN (or make or purchase a similar passive composting bin). Place the bin in partial sun and shade. Place the bin near the garden plot, so weeds and other plant material can easily be added to the bin. For each passive bin, reserve two spaces: when the bin is full or compost harvest is desired, move the passive bin to the second space and start over with whatever was not fully composted in the bin’s first space.

Bin Considerations
  • Who will assemble it?
  • Is it pest proof? (Lining the bottom with chicken wire will prevent pests from getting into your bin)
  • Is it large enough? (Each bin should be at least 3’ x 3’ x 4’)
  • Is it easily re-located or replaced?
  • Is it durable?
  • Is it made of non-toxic materials?

How to Compost
Composting is easy! Just follow these simple steps to make compost:
  1. Add high carbon materials ("browns"), such as fall leaves, straw, salt marsh hay, shredded paper and cardboard (newspaper, paper towels, paper plates, paper bags), chipped brush, sawdust, pine needles (pine needles should not make up more than 10% of the total material in the pile), high nitrogen materials ("greens"), grass clippings, weeds (not laden with seeds), vegetable and fruit wastes, seaweed, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, manure (horse, cow, rabbit, chicken, goat, gerbil, etc).
  2. Mix or layer materials: Every 12" or so add a few shovelsful of rich soil or compost.
  3. Keep it damp and aerated. Wait a few months, and voila—black gold! NOTE: For best results, and to keep out odors and pests, do not add: meat, bones, fat grease, oils, peanut butter, daily products (cheese, butter, milk, eggs), cooked foods with sauces or butter, dog or cat manure diseased plants, weeds gone to seed, weeds that spread by roots and runners (vines).

(Courtesy of The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection)

Compost Checklist
  • Water (as wet as a wrung-out sponge)
  • Air
  • Nitrogen (greens) – such as fresh manure, fresh plant material
  • Carbon (browns) – such as black & white newspaper, dead and dry leaves
  • Micro-organisms (bacteria, fungus) – such as a teaspoon full of soil
  • Macro-organisms (beetles, centipedes, earthworms, compost worms, pill bugs, earwigs, dung beetles, slugs, etc.) – they’ll find your bin

Passive Composting
A small garden plot can use passive (cold, small bin) composting. Passive composting is less labor intensive, does not require all the materials to be added at the same time (or within a few weeks), and materials can be added gradually. Compost is generally higher in Nitrogen content than with active composting. Area should be at least 3’ x 3’ x 4’. Passive composting takes a little longer, but is useful as it provides a close-by space for plant material removed from the garden and keeps the pile looking neat.

Active Composting
Active (hot) composting requires a large, regularly turned, tested and monitored site. When properly managed and screened, it can produce compost that does not contain weed seed and plant pathogens. If your SLUG garden does not have space for a passive bin, consider placing a compost order with SLUG by getting in touch with the square footage of your garden.
Email slug@bostonnatural.org by April 30.

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