Hands sift through compost ready for use


Take our 20-question quiz to see how much you know (or need to learn) about composting. Read each question, then click on your answer choice to reveal the result. When you've read the result, click the answer to close it or simply move on to the next question.

1)   I'm having problems with my compost system and I'm not sure of the cause. What should I do first?

a. Add water

b. Add browns/carbon rich material

c. Turn the compost

d. Add greens/nitrogen rich material

2)   My compost smells bad and I turned it yesterday. What can I do?

a. Add bulky browns/carbon-rich material

b. Add greens/nitrogen-rich material

c. Add water

3)   My pile won't heat up, but I have the proper volume of material (approximately 1 cubic yard), enough oxygen (aeration), and a good balance of carbon to nitrogen (approximately 30:1). What can I do?

a. Add lime

b. Add moisture

c. Add potting soil

d. Add clean wood ash

e. All of the above

4)   What can I do about flies in my compost?

a. Spray with pesticide

b. Create a separate pile for kitchen scraps

c. No need to act

5)   How can I compost in my high-rise condomunium or apartment?

a. With a compost bin

b. With worms

c. With the in-sink disposal

6)   What is the optimal size of a composting system?

a. The bigger, the better

b. Long and narrow

c. About 3 feet high by 3 feet long by 3 feet wide

7)   What can be used as a catalyst or inoculant to get my compost pile started?

a. Finished compost

b. Large pieces left over from screening compost

c. Small amount of organic top soil from the yard

d. Commercially prepared inoculant

e. All of the above

8)   How do I get rid of fire ants in my compost pile?

a. Leave the pile alone

b. Water and turn the pile

c. Spray the pile with pesticide

9)   When is the compost finished?

a. After 6-8 weeks

b. When the compost appears dark, crumbly, and looks and smells like soil

c. When the pile temperature exceeds 131 degrees F

10)   What determines how long it takes for organic material to become useful compost?

a. Size of materials place into composting system

b. Carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio of materials place into composting system

c. Level of management/attention paid to the composting process

d. Intended use for finished compost

e. All of the above

11)   Must I cover the compost bin?

a. Yes

b. No

12)   What items may harm my worms if added to my vermi-composting system?

a. Alcohol or vinegar

b. Coffee grinds

c. Oranges or other citrus

d. All of the above

13)   It I can't compost it, what can I do with it?

a. Reduce

b. Reuse

c. Recycle

d. All of the above

14)   Must I use a manufactured composting bin?

a. Yes

b. No

15)   What is the lowest-cost backyard composting system?

a. Pile, trench, and sheet composting

b. Manufactured bins

c. Self-made bins

16)   What best accelerates the decomposition of oak leaves?

a. Water the pile

b. Turn the pile twice a week

c. Shred leaves before adding to the compost

d. All of the above

17)   How can I accelerate the compost decomposition process?

a. Active management of the compost system

b. Building a bigger pile

c. Adding a compost starter/inoculant/catalyst

d. None of the above

18)   How much time does it take to make compost?

a. One hour per day

b. One hour per week

c. One hour per month

d. As little or as much time as I want

19)   Hot composting and vermi-composting are compatible?

a. True

b. False

20)   How does composting affect soil pH?

a. Makes soils more acidic

b. Makes soils more basic

c. Has a buffering effect