A: The time it takes to make finished compost depends mostly on the method used:
A: The point at which the compost is ready varies depending on how the compost will be used. In general, compost is ready when it's dark and crumbly and mostly broken down with a pleasant, earthy, soil-like smell to it. The using compost section of the site has lots of helpful tips.
A: In general, you can compost any soft organic materials. Good materials to add are leaves, hay, straw, paper, seaweed, grass clippings, fresh manure, vegetable trimmings and most green plant cuttings. See the good ingredients page for more detail. Materials to keep out of your compost are meat and fish products, bones, fats, whole eggs, dairy products, human and pet feces, and pressure treated wood. A full list is available on the what not to add page.
"...if you can't find the answer to your question, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org"Q: How do I get started? I haven't made compost before.
A: Composting isn't difficult. All that's needed is some vegetable scraps and a place to make a pile. See the beginner's guide to composting for some tips on getting started.
A: If you live in an area where temperatures remain above freezing your compost pile will continue to break down. If, on the other hand, you live in an area where temperatures fall below freezing for part of the year, the rate of decomposition will slow and if the nitrogen level is too low, the pile may freeze completely. If this happens, continue adding materials and when the weather warms up the pile will begin to decompose again.
A: If your compost smells foul it may be one of the following:
If it seems as if you have done everything right: the pile is the right size, it's damp and has been turned regulary, the pile may need more nitrogen. Compost piles with too little nitrogen can take a long time to heat up. Adding some grass clippings, manure or vegetable scraps should help.
A: A well managed compost pile should only attract the occasional curious animal. If animals continue to be a problem it is likely that meat, fish, animal fats, vegetable fats or food cooked in vegetalbe fats have been added to the pile. A possible solution is to move the materials into a closed bin such as a plastic bin with a lockintg lid. Wire mesh can be added to the bottom of the bin to prevent creatures from digging their way in. People in areas where animals are a problem often a closed plastic bin for food waste and separate open style bins for garden waste.