"Compost Happens" Program
Attend a "Compost Happens" Workshop and learn how to turn yard and kitchen waste into fertile, organic matter to use as a soil amendment, mulch, potting soil and/or compost tea. The workshop cost is $5.00 per household per workshop and includes a presentation, information packet and a compost bin and thermometer for each participating household. Composting of yard trash is an environmentally sound way to reduce solid waste by recycling a useful resource. This program is sponsored by Hillsborough County's Solid Waste Management Department and the Extension Service.
Please visit our Calendar of Events for a complete list for gardening programs.
By attending a Compost Happens Workshop, you will receive a Home Composting Wheel and one free compost bin and thermometer per household.
*NOTE: If you live in a county other than Hillsborough County, you must pay $55.04 to receive the compost bin and thermometer when you attend the workshop.
The Compost Wheel is an excellent tool to help you get started. One side of the wheel explains why you should compost and provides the recipe for successful composting. The materials needed, preparation, and carbon or nitrogen value for grass clippings, leaves, woody material, garden remains/weeds, straw, hay, livestock manure soiled bedding, paper products, food remains, and additives are addressed.
The other side of the compost wheel explains what not to compost, how to determine the location for your compost pile, how to build and maintain the pile and how you can tell when the material is fully composted. It provides answers to your “What If” questions about compost pile temperatures, odor and pests. Possible causes and solutions are given which will make your composting experience even easier.
Types of Compost Bins
There are several types of compost bins you can make or purchase.
If you choose to purchase a compost bin, many models are available, ranging in price from $65.00 - $300.00+. Some are tumblers with a hand crank for ease in turning. Others resemble a dog house with a removable lid for ease in adding to and turning your compost. Another brand looks cube-like and can be rolled around in the yard.
You can create your own compost bin from wooden pallets, a metal garbage can, chicken wire or food grade barrels. By using an internet search engine or accessing our website, plans are readily available. You can also receive a plan by attending a free Compost Happens Workshop.
Sometimes it boils down to your money or your muscle and which you prefer expending! And, regardless of the bin style you select, the rules remain the same:
- Bin volume: 3’ x 3’ x 3’
- Particle size: less than 2-3 inches
- Food: carbon and nitrogen (browns and greens)
- Water: moist, not soggy
- Air: oxygen
Vermicomposting is the process of using worms and micro-organisms to produce rich compost from kitchen wastes. One pound of worms will turn 65 pounds of garbage into garden compost in 110 days.
Just any worms, like those in your backyard, won’t do. The worms you need are English redworms also called “red wigglers.” These worms are commonly raised for fish bait and can be purchased locally. You’ll need approximately 2 pounds of worms for each pound of garbage your household produces daily.
Food scraps of plant origin are the best diet for your worms. These include vegetable and fruit trimmings, coffee grounds, pasta, bread, cereal, tea bags and paper products.
Your finished product, compost, can be used as a nutrient rich soil amendment or mulch. A good potting mix can be made with ¼ part compost, ¼ part perlite, ¼ part peat and ¼ part builder’s sand.
To learn more about how to build and prepare your worm bin, where to purchase your worms, how to care for them, how to harvest compost and worms and the biology of your worms, attend a Compost Happens workshop. Pre-registration is required.