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What’s the key to having fun and success with your composting? Keeping your chefs happy – and we don’t mean the ones in your kitchen. There’s a lot of life – and cooking! – happening in your Earth Machine. This week, we’re sharing words of wisdom from local compost guru Phyllis Fevrier. Many of you met Phyllis and fellow members of her Compost Team – from Rockbridge Area Master Gardeners – when you picked up your Earth Machine. Thank you, Phyllis!

What’s the secret to great compost? 

Cooking up healthy compost starts with creating a healthy habitat for hungry decomposers to survive and grow. Luckily, creating this habitat is easy. 

Who are these tiny chefs, our decomposers? 

In your Earth Machine you’ll eventually find earthworms, springtails, pill bugs, fungus, and bacteria all working together to find and share nourishment from the “greens” and “browns” you provide. 

What is the best recipe for our chefs to make a nourishing compost meal?

These tiny decomposers need both carbon and nitrogen in their diet. 

  • “Greens,” such as  food scraps, grass clippings, and weedy green leaves are high in nitrogen, and digestible sugars and starches, but they are low in carbon.

  • “Browns,” like sawdust, dried leaves, hay, straw, and paper, are very high in carbon, yet harder to digest. 

  • These decomposing chefs need a good ratio of greens to browns to thrive, about 1:3-4 per volume. With the right mix, plus air and water, decomposers have what they need to survive. They’ll be able to reproduce, prosper, and break down the greens and browns into rich compost. 

Pro Tip(s):

To keep your composting café active, layer 3-4 inches of browns over every 1 inch of greens. Repeat this recipe over time. This mix of “Greens” and “Browns” gives the right nutritional balance for the tiny decomposer chefs who in turn transform our waste into rich food for the soil. 

To keep our little friends thriving, you can also introduce more air flow into your pile. The Earth Machines already have side air vents, but you can also stick a pitchfork or shovel down into the pile and rock it back and forth. Keep your pile moist (though not wet) as well. 

Got more questions? 

Ask them on our Compost Challenge Facebook Group, check out the Composting FAQs or contact Phyllis Fevrier at 540-460-9298 and leave a message. She will return your call.

Now, please click the green button below to access the simple data upload page. Thank you again for your participation!

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