Composting Information

Our Compost System

Compost helps to keep our garden organic by providing structural improvement of the soil and preventing the need for artificial fertilizers. The garden composts its waste and accepts material from neighbors and from the Park Slope Food Coop.  Compost contributions are encouraged and appreciated. We ask contributors to follow a few simple guidelines.

Basic Information for Composters

Please help us run a clean system by following these simple guidelines.  Anything added to the bin whole will remain whole for months.  Please puncture, scratch, cut and chop all material.  Mix your compost material with green and brown material.  Nitrogen and carbon make the process work.

USE the current bin only.  The chalkboard on the shed will direct you. There is usually a “compost here” sign on the bin as well.  Any other use will work against the system.

CHOP or puncture your compost material. It is easiest to do this at home. Whole foods remain whole and slow down the process.  Because we have a large input level, speedy break-down is essential.

MAKE a hole large enough to accommodate your contribution to the pile. After you dump your material, pull the pile closed again.

ADD sawdust when you have finished and place a brick or two on the edge of the bin lid to keep out rodents.  The material to be composed must be covered!

Sawdust can be found in the black garbage bags and/or in the short, black compost bin.  If there is none there, please cover your new compost with the oldest compost available.  Layering the top with brown material is essential.  It is helpful to mix your material with sawdust before you place it in the bin, especially if you have a large volume of material to compost.

Membership

You must be a member to compost in the Garden. More information about membership or join online!

  • Fruits and vegetables must be chopped before going into the compost bins: please puncture, scratch, cut and chop all material.  It may be easiest to do this at home.
  • Cut all fresh or dried flowers to a length of 4-6 inches OR better yet, drop them in a tree pit on your way to the Garden. They will serve as mulch, beautify the pit, discourage dog use and reduce our load.
  • Anything added to the compost bin “whole” will remain whole for months.  Cut all onions, apples, oranges, squash etc.

Things Not to Compost

  • No whole eggs. Eggshells are OK.
  • No coconuts, no wheatgrass, no houseplants: these are hard to break down items.  Soil from houseplants may be left outside of bins if it is not contaminated with disease
  • No meat or meat by-products, such as bones
  • No fat of any kind or items that have been deep-fried
  • No starch: no rice, pasta, bread or other starch-based foods.  You may find information that says the above items are OK…however, nitrogen and carbon are the ONLY elements we are looking for. Note:  stacks of tortillas come through whole a month later!
  • No “bio-degradable” plastic bags or utensils – they don’t degrade.  No cotton socks or clothing!

Compost Procedure

  • Use ONLY the current designated bin – there is a chalkboard on the shed with a bin letter on it
  • All bins are labeled from A to G
  • Look for the “compost here” sign, on the front of the bin
  • If you can’t find these or they are incorrect, then lift the lids and look for the bin with fresh food in it.  Do not use a bin that is almost finished simply because there is room there
  • The bin should be filled to the absolute very tip -top: don’t leave any room, as compost breaks down and makes more room on its own
  • Push material to the back of the bin – there is frequently room
  • Correct the chalkboard if it is wrong – we need everyone’s help.  Move the “compost here” sign, too.

How to Compost: Small Additions
What is small?  Several quart bags or one or two gallon containers.

  • Locate the correct bin.
  • If your contribution is frozen, locate the correct bin and make a hole deep and wide enough to accommodate your addition to the pile.  Try to break the material up, if possible, so the browns get mixed in.
  • If your compost is not frozen simply mix browns (sawdust) in with your greens and dump it in the designated bin.
  • Mixing your material with sawdust before you place it in the bin is the best solution to adding browns.
  • When you’re finished, close the bin and place a brick or two on the edge of the bin lid to keep out rodents.  Your addition must be covered!
  • Mixing your greens with brown material is essential.  Nitrogen and carbon make the process work!

How to Compost: Large Additions
What is large?  Several five gallon buckets or many gallon containers.

  • Locate the correct bin
  • Mix your material with sawdust before you place it in the bin. To accomplish this, use the large flat black containers and a trowel or shovel. Dump in your material and add an appropriate amount of sawdust and mix.
  • Dump the mixture into the correct bin, close the lids, and add bricks.
  • Mixing your greens with brown material is essential.  Nitrogen and carbon make the process work!!

Troubleshooting

  • Where is the sawdust?  It can be found in the black garbage bags and/or in the short, black compost bin.  If there is none there, please cover your new compost with compost from one of the wooden bins. Layering the top with brown material is essential.
  • What if I find bugs or the compost smells?  Bugs or a really bad smell indicate not enough brown material has been added.  Add some to make your stopover more pleasant.
  • What if the shed is locked and I don’t have any tools?  A small trowel is always near the compost bins. There is a large, long handled claw on the side of the shed.
  • When do I move from the designated bin to the next (designated) bin?  When the bin is so full it cannot hold one more thing.  When the compost is over the top of the bin.  When the bin is full to the tip top!