Website and Graphic Design: 
Grace Lasarsky

Compostable materials can be dropped off at SOUL Garden’s compost site any time! Our student volunteers take time to keep the site running properly, so please make sure to read the pointers below before contributing.

Composting is nature’s way of recycling organic material--anything that was once living--into a nutrient-rich soil that can be spread in gardens and farms to nourish new life.

Why Compost?

Composting…

  • enriches soil with nutrients in a form that plants can use

  • maintains the soil food web

  • builds soil structure

  • improves drainage

  • creates more water-holding ability in soil, which means less watering

  • reduces erosion

 

How does it work?

SOUL uses a four-bin composting system to produce compost. The four bins are:

Incoming--to collect fresh materials ready to be composted

Working (2)--to store the materials once they heat up and undergo decomposition

Finished--to hold the finished (or nearly finished) compost

 

Our volunteers routinely move compost from one bin to the next as appropriate to produce a steady stream of compost for the garden. 

There are two general types of compostable materials:

“Green” materials--fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds/filters, tea bags,

“Brown” materials--dried leaves, wood chips, mulch, straw

 

It’s important to be strategic when filling an active composting bin. It is ideal to balance nitrogen-rich “green” materials with carbon-rich “brown” materials to ensure that the process doesn’t take too long and that you don’t end up with a slimy, smelly heap. After you add “green” materials, throw some “brown” leaves or mulch on top of it. The goal is to have about a 50-50 ratio of brown to green. Doing so will help keep things balanced, reduce odor, and avoid attracting unwanted critters.

 

The process is powered by bacteria that break down plant matter to produce carbon dioxide and heat. Worms, slugs, and insects also help out by digesting the decomposing matter and pooping it out as a sort of binding agent. The microbes need oxygen to decompose the organic material, which is why it is necessary to turn the compost with a pitchfork or shovel periodically.

 

What materials can I bring?

Compostable Items:

  • Fruits and veggies

  • Egg shells

  • Pasta, bread, cereal

  • Coffee grounds & filters

  • Tea bags

 

Do NOT compost:

  • Meat, bones, fish, dairy products

  • Non-organic materials (plastic, metal, glass, etc.)

  • Cardboard

  • Paper towels & rolls

  • Soiled paper food packaging

  • Weeds with seed heads

Pro tip: increase surface area of materials as much as possible by chopping or breaking them into smaller pieces. This will allow soil organisms to break down the material faster.​

 

Where should I put my compostables?

When you turn off the greenway to enter the garden, the cinder block compost site will be on your left. There will be a sign that says “Place Food Scraps Here” above the appropriate section of the site for you to put your compostable materials. 

When & where is the compost utilized?

Composting can take anywhere from 2-6 months depending on quality of the materials, moisture content, exposure to air, ratio of greens to browns, etc. Finished compost can be used…

  • As a top dress

  • When transplanting

  • During direct seeding

  • To build up soil

 

What if I want to help out?

Besides dropping off scraps you collect in your home, apartment, dorm, or office, you can visit our Volunteer page to see how you can get involved with the SOUL Garden. Also visit our Scrap to Life page to see how Soil Stewards are engaging the community through composting.

 

Feel free to contact one of the the composting site co-managers, Samantha Pace and Andrew Harrell, with any questions at soulgarden-org@ncsu.edu.

 

Links to Educational Material

A Guide to Managing Organic Yard Wastes

USDA Composting

Home Composting: A Guide to Managing Yard Waste

Home and Backyard Composting

3 Pile Composting System

Making Compost FAQs