When organic materials such as leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and food scraps break down aerobically (with oxygen), they turn into compost. Farmers and gardeners often refer to compost as "black gold" because it is a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can help plant growth. Compost improves water retention and aeration in soil while also providing carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other elements.
In addition to being good for the soil, composting is good for the environment because it reduces the amount of organic material going to landfill. Organic materials decompose anaerobically (without oxygen) in landfills and produce methane (CH4), a powerful greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2). To learn more about climate change and greenhouse gases, visit the EPA's website.
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NotesMaster Gardener volunteers are trained and certified by the University of California Cooperative Extension. Call or email firstname.lastname@example.org your home composting questions.
Making your own compost at home is easy! Just like baking a cake, the main thing is to get the correct ratio of ingredients mixed together. Fruit and vegetable peelings, cut flowers, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and paper towels are some examples of items to compost. Please see our page on home composting and vermicomposting for more information and resources!
Sign up for a green curbside cart and have your organic materials hauled away! Industrial composting facilities build larger piles that reach temperatures much hotter than what can be achieved in your backyard. This allows them to compost meat, bones, dairy, and other items that you can't compost at home.