Compost – How it Happens

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 27,334
    Master gardener Ed Bruske demonstrates how compost happens.

    Ed Bruske

    An award-winning journalist for The Wasington Post in a previous life, Ed Bruske is a Master Gardener and president of D.C. Urban Gardeners, a group dedicated to the greening of the District of Columbia through public education and hands-on volunteer efforts. An accomplished public speaker, Ed focuses his lecture activities on composting and soil ecology. He practices daily organic recycling through composting and vermicomposting at his home about a mile from the White House, where he and his wife are transforming their corner lot into an edible landscape. Ed is a personal chef, caterer and chef-in-residence at The Washington Youth Garden, located at the U.S. National Arboretum in the District of Columbia. He also writes about composting and cooking from the garden on his blog, The Slow Cook,

    Hi, I am Ed Bruske with the D.C. Urban Gardeners. We are here in my garden today in the District of Columbia talking about composting and you may be wondering how does compost happen. Well, you are going to be hearing a lot if you get into compost about green stuff and brown stuff. Here the green stuff I have in my hand here are actually grass clippings from my yard that I mowed yesterday with my electric mower and here are some leaves that I actually collected last fall and I have been saving for just this purpose and I have chopped them up in a special leaf shredder that I happen to own. You don't have to have the leaf shredder, but it is nice to turn them into little crumbly pieces like this rather than whole leaves. Well, the green stuff and the reason people talk about that so much is because green stuff, leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps, vegetables tend to have more nitrogen in them. Nitrogen is what we all carry around with us in the form of proteins. Nitrogen, when you mix nitrogen with the brown stuff, the brown stuff contains carbon and in the decomposition process you want to try and achieve a balance of nitrogen and carbon. So, what we are going to be doing is mixing this at some point in the correct balance for the little microorganisms that like to eat this stuff and break it down into compost. Green stuff is the favorite food of bacteria. Bacteria will eat this and they will make a hot compost pile. They generate heat with this. These leaves, they are more favorite food of different kinds of fungi. Fungi act more slowly and they like to eat stuff that is a lot tougher like leaves, paper and cardboard and what I am going to talk to you about next is how you make that compost bin so that you have a place to build your compost for your garden.