NatureMill Compost Made Easy
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Absolutely everything we know about NatureMill and composting is listed below.

Product Highlights

Ordering


Technical Support

Gardening with compost

Other Resources

ORDERING


Where is my order? back to top

Please see naturemill.com/products for the latest update on availability. You can also locate the last email we sent you. Click on the link in that email for up-to-the-minute tracking information. This is exactly the same data we have here in our database.

If you only received one "order confirmation" email and it has no tracking number, that means we have NOT YET SHIPPED your order but we have it in our system. We generally ship within 1-2 business days but during peak times it can be longer.

If you cannot locate any emails we sent you, please check your spam folder. If you still can't find any email confirmations, then please send us an email with your name, address, email address, and approximate date of order.


Distributors, importers, and municipal agencies back to top

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

What items can I put in my NatureMill? back to top

Deposit almost any biodegradable materials, summarized in the chart below. Cut or shred materials into small pieces to aid in composting. Add a mix of "green" and "brown" items for best results. All of this information is listed in the instructions. Add a tablespoon of ordinary baking soda now and then to reduce normal food acidity.



RECOMMENDED

materials


NOT RECOMMENDED

materials

Add a mix of "green" and "brown" items:

"Green" items:
  • fruit, vegetable scraps
  • meat, chicken, fish
  • fish bones, shrimp tails
  • cheese, eggs, egg shells
  • tea leaves
  • grass & plant clippings
"Brown" items:
  • sawdust, wood shavings (untreated, unpainted wood)
  • bread, rice, pasta, grains
  • nuts, nut shells, straw
  • dry flowers, small yard leaves
  • coffee grounds




  • pourable liquid, chemicals, soap, cosmetics, medicine
  • plastic, metal, glass, rubber, alcohol, cigarettes
  • office paper, newspaper, magazines
  • hard or fibrous items: chicken & steak bones, lobster & clam shells, wine corks, avocado & peach pits, corn cobs & husks, coconut shells, lemongrass
  • diseased foods, human waste, disposable diapers
  • limit very acidic items to 2 lbs (900g) per load: oranges, grapes, berries, plums, pickles, tomatoes
  • 3-4 piece limit for lemon, lime, grapefruit, pineapple



With experience, you will get a feel of what composts well and what does not. A good rule of thumb is that any material that you can recognize in the final compost should be avoided in the future, or cut in smaller pieces first. Note that certain materials, such as meat, fish, and dairy, can be used in NatureMill (unlike in backyard compost piles where rats, raccoons, and bears can be a problem).

Some items compost better than others. Coffee grinds decompose easily. We have had mixed experiences with very dense items, such as very stale bread or hard candy. When in doubt, add just a little and then check the end result carefully!



How much waste does it hold? When can I add waste? back to top

NatureMill is suitable for a typical family of five, or for a single individual living alone. It really depends on your eating and cooking habits. Add as much as 5 lbs (2.3kg) in any one day, and up to 120 lbs (55kg) per month.

You can add waste items at any time, on any day. Processing is continuous and automatic. Seventy percent of the waste material disappears into thin air -- literally -- as the compost cultures break down the waste and turn it into water vapor which dissipates away.

When and how often do I remove the finished compost?
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Remove your rich, organic fertilizer roughly twice per month, depending on actual usage. A red indicator light will tell you when. You will save garbage-emptying trips, since your regular kitchen trash will diminish in quantity and odors. Seventy percent or more of the initial waste material disappears into thin air - literally - as the compost cultures break down the waste material and produce pure water vapor which dissipates away.


Automatic mixing back to top

NatureMill takes care of mixing for you. There is no manual labor required. A small electrical motor mixes the compost, which breaks up clumps, compacts the waste, and improves air flow. The computer controller determines the frequency and duration of mixing. Periodically you may hear the motor turn.

Do I need to add starter compost cultures? back to top

Add cultures just once to begin the natural compost reactions. The compost cultures regenerate indefinitely inside the machine, so there is generally no need to add the cultures again.

The best source of cultures is ordinary "living" soil from your own local environment. It's free! Soil from your garden, a nearby park, or roadside is ideal. Add two cups (500 ml) of healthy soil. Use uncontaminated soil where healthy plants normally grow. Cold, frozen, or wet soil is ok.

We have tested a number of commercially available cultures, but they are not as reliable as natural living soil. Dried and processed cultures, while available at most garden stores, are often weakened due to temperature and moisture fluctuations in transit.

Occasionally, the cultures in your NatureMill unit may become inactive if you abandon the machine for 6 months or more, or if you accidentally add citrus, pineapple, chemicals, or other harmful materials. In that case, just add another two cups (500 ml) of living soil to the machine. As a precaution, you may want to add two cups of healthy soil each time you empty the cure tray. That way, even it the cultures become inactive for whatever reason, there is always a supply of new cultures. It can't hurt to add more.

Composting in an apartment
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You can definitely use NatureMill if you live in an apartment. To use compost indoors, first let it cure and dry outdoors for several days or weeks. This is because fresh compost material has an organic aroma and may attract beneficial insects. These are natural and unavoidable properties of all compost. (The machine itself, when used properly, produces no trash odors due to its sealed design and air filter).

Ideally, spread fresh compost over a warm, breezy corner of a garden or backyard. You can also cure compost on a tarp or tray, on a roof top or balcony. A drain hole is recommended if compost is wet. Cold or rain will slow the process somewhat, but will not destroy compost. The instruction manual gives complete details. After compost is cured and dried, it has no odors at all and can be used indoors.

NatureMill will produce a batch of compost weighing 10 lbs (4.5 kg) or more, roughly every other week. If you do not have a garden, lawn, or sizable greenhouse, it may be difficult to use all the compost on indoor potted plants alone. Of course, you can give your compost to a friend or donate it to a local park, landscaper, or garden center. They will be grateful!


How does NatureMill prevent trash odors and bugs? back to top

When used properly, NatureMill produces no trash odors. You may sense a slight aroma of fresh cut grass or sourdough bread. This is because the computer-controlled environment inside the machine enables compost cultures to work quickly - before odors develop. The entire unit is tightly sealed, with an inner reactor chamber where the real work happens. Compost cultures produce heat as a byproduct. Temperatures reach high enough to destroy insects and other unwanted pathogens. A small fan draws air into the machine continuously, and out through a powerful air filter (included).

Is it safe?
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NatureMill is UL and CE compliant, and runs on very low electrical current. There are no worms, flies, chemicals, grinders, high voltages, or scalding temperatures involved. The lower door is sealed tightly. The overall weight and height are such that a pet or small child cannot easily knock it over or otherwise tamper with it. We have found that pets are generally not interested in compost. For added security, you can keep NatureMill inside a cabinet, closet, garage, or covered porch.

As for the safety of the compost itself, the internal reactor chamber maintains a true "hot composting" temperature of 140F (60C) for several days. This is no hotter than a dishwasher or a cup of coffee. It is not hot enough to burn your skin, even if you were to pry open the reactor and place your hand in there for some time. The heat neutralizes pathogens such as E. coli and prevents seed germination. When used properly, NatureMill exceeds US EPA "Part 503" guidelines for compost safety. We believe NatureMill is the only compost machine, bin, tumbler, or other household device to produce compost which complies with EPA safety rules. The cure tray is no more than 100F (38C) when you empty it - about as hot as a your own body temperature.

Replacing the air filter
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To locate the air filter, click here. The filter plug is located above the word "FILTER" on the back of the machine. You can not see or touch the air filter without first removing the filter plug. Open the cure door, remove the red cure tray, and pop out the filter plug from the inside.

Replace the air filter approximately once every 5 years or as odors develop, depending on actual usage. You can purchase a replacement filter directly from NatureMill.

If you prefer, you can replenish the air filter yourself. It takes a little more work, but it will save you a few dollars. Here's how to replenish the carbon granules yourself:

  1. Buy some activated carbon. You can find it at any pet store in the fish isle -- the same carbon is used in aquarium filters. Do not use ordinary charcoal from a BBQ grill because it is not "activated" and will not absorb odors effectively.
  2. Unplug the machine, remove the red cure tray, and pop out the air filter plug from the inside.
  3. Unscrew the cap from the filter bottle and remove the round piece of nylon mesh material if present - hold on to both of these.
  4. Pour out the spent carbon. The granules are compostable -- you can pour them right into the machine.
  5. Refill with new carbon granules. Use a funnel, or make one by wrapping a sheet of paper into a cone shape. This step can be messy if you are not careful.
  6. Replaced the round nylon mesh material as before (if present), and screw the lid back onto the filter bottle.
  7. Replace the filter back into the machine as before.
  8. Reinsert the filter plug, plug the machine in, and resume normal operation.

How much energy does it use?
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Most of the energy required for healthy composting comes from the compost cultures themselves - they generate heat as they go about their work of consuming food waste.

A small amount of electrical power is needed for the electronics and the air pump. NatureMill plugs into a standard wall outlet. It draws about 5 kwh / month, which costs about $0.50 / month depending on local electricity rates. This is about as much energy as a typical night light. It is FAR less energy than hauling the same waste to a landfill in a diesel truck. Electric energy is generally much cleaner than diesel.

NatureMill runs on either 110 or 220 volts, and is UL and CE compliant.



Do I really have room for another recycling bin?
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NatureMill will help you reduce the amount of regular (non-recycled) waste in your kitchen. Over time, you may find that you can use a smaller trash bin and reduce your overall waste bin clutter. We plan to offer matching and integrated trash and recycling bins to better organize clutter. Check back with our website in the future.



Size and weight back to top

NatureMill is 20 " high x 20" deep x 12" wide (51 x 51 x 30 cm). It fits inside most kitchen cabinets. The empty weight is 17 lbs (8 kg).

OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS


Tips for making great compost back to top

Different people have different opinions about how to make great compost. We have conducted extensive research specifically on our automatic compost machine, including chemical analysis of finished compost and thermal monitoring of controlled samples. Here are the most important points we have come up with:
  • Add more "brown" waste items, especially sawdust or sawdust pellets. Four handfulls at the start of each cycle will make a big difference. Other "brown" items include small leaves, grains, pasta, rice, etc.Kitchen waste is very high in nitrogen which could result in an ammonia smell.
  • Add two tablespoons of baking soda. This reduces the natural acidity found in most foods.
  • Read the instructions! It is important to follow all the simple steps there.
  • Poke through your finished compost with a hand trowel. If you notice anything unusual, make the appropriate changes in future batches. You may find that some items are not biodegradable. We have found that certain tea bags, while they look like paper, are actually made of plastic mesh. Excessive liquid or unusual smells are also things to fix. See the "What can go wrong" section.
  • Chop items into the smallest size that is convenient for you. This will provide the maximum compost energy and produce the best quality. Do not pulverize in a food processor though, as this can create sludge.
  • Discuss composting with other members of your household. If one person doesn't understand what items to add or how to chop them up, this could create problems down the road.



What can go wrong
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Healthy compost is spongy, moist, and warm, with an organic aroma like fresh cut grass, sourdough bread, or wet hay. Strong foods like broccoli or garlic intensify odors. Compost often spills into the white drip tray. Surface mold is common. The bottom layer may have a strong odor if partially flooded.

  • A strong "trash truck" odor means cultures were destroyed. Material may be wet, cool, and light brown. CAUSES: insufficient starting cultures or brown waste; flooding; cold location; soap or chemicals; unplugged power cord; excess acidic waste (berries, grapes, oranges, tomatoes, vinegar, pickles); any lemon, lime, grapefruit, or pineapple. SOLUTION: Start by adding a few handfuls of "brown" material such as sawdust pellets, and two tablespoons of baking soda., and wait 24-48 hours. If that doesn't do it: push the OK button to clear the reactor chamber; add two more cups (500 ml) of healthy soil; be sure the air pump is working with air flowing out the air exhaust tube on the back; add sufficient "brown" items; limit acidic items; review instructions and reference sheet. Odor will cease after one or two cycles.
  • An pungent or ammonia odor (like commercial-strength floor cleaner) indicates insufficient brown material. This is common with food waste. Add more sawdust pellets.
  • Flooding: If the red cure tray contains liquid but compost looks healthy and dry on top, add less fruit, lettuce, and other wet items, or more dry items. Be sure the white drip tray is in position - see drawing.
  • Dryness: If compost is dry and crunchy, with dry areas poorly composted, add more wet items (fruit, lettuce, etc.), or add 4oz (120ml) water in the future.
  • Structure: Compost should be spongy and loose, like mulch. If it is lumpy, add smaller, softer items in the future. If you see large individual uncomposted items, avoid them or chop them smaller in the future.


What to expect - nothing is happening. Is something wrong? back to top

NatureMill is always on when plugged in, and is nearly silent most of the time. There is no power switch. You should hear the air pump. The "Power" light should be on. Occasionally when the motor mixer turns on or the trap door opens, you may hear some motor sounds. If you do not hear the air pump and do not see any lights, be sure that the power supply is plugged into the wall AND connected to the back of the unit. If you still can not get the unit to work, please send us an email for further assistance.

Steam and heat rising from the machine are signs of vigorous compost activity. Don't be surprised if nothing else seems to happen. When you press the OK button, the computer may delay processing until 48 hours since the last cycle. This is to ensure adequate composting time. You may see the "wait" light come on. Check back in a day or two.



The hopper is full - what should I do? back to top

Some models have an upper "hopper" section. Please consult the instructions that came with you unit. If it is full, push the OK button. This will trigger the computer to transfer the waste from the hopper into the reactor chamber. The transfer process takes about 15 minutes. The computer may delay cycling until 48 hours since the last cycle, to allow enough time for the last batch to compost in the reactor chamber. You can push the OK button sooner, but nothing will happen until the 48 hour mark. You may see the "wait" light flash briefly.

If you wait more than 3 weeks to push the OK button, the computer will automatically transfer waste out of the hopper. This is to prevent odors in case you go on vacation and forget to press the OK button.


How do I empty the finished compost? back to top
  1. When the indicator light comes on, open the cure door, and remove the red compost tray. Leave the unit plugged in - this will keep the fan and filter on. Close the side door to reduce odors.
  2. Pour any liquid from the drip tray down the sink drain and rinse.
  3. Dump the compost tray upside down to remove all the compost. We recommend that you do this outside to avoid any odors.
  4. Rinse the compost tray with a garden hose or sink faucet. It is not necessary to scrub or soak the trays. Never use soap or chemicals.
  5. Reinsert the cure tray and drip tray back into the NatureMill unit. Be sure the drip tray is at the far end of the cure tray.
  6. Close the side door tightly.
  7. Press the OK button to resume normal use.
  8. Now examine the finished compost for quality:
    • If it is dripping wet or saturated, you may have added too much soggy material. Try to add less of this in the future.
    • If it is dried out, add more soggy material or a few ounces of water in the future.
    • Poke the compost with a garden tool. If you recognize any waste materials in the final compost, try to add fewer of these materials in the future or cut them into smaller pieces.
    • If it has an ammonia smell, you may need to add more brown material in the future.


Eliminating odors back to top

Under normal operation, the machine will produce no trash odors. This is because the air pump is always on, providing oxygen to the compost cultures. An air filter removes any lingering odors. The compost material will have a mild "organic" aroma similar to fresh cut grass or sourdough bread - this is normal.

If you sense any other odors, try the following:

  1. Please re-read the instrucions.
  2. Add more "brown" material. We recommend sawdust pelets. We recommend two handfuls at the start of each batch, and more if odors develop. A one month supply is included with new units. You can reorder these from us, or purchase from most local landscape supply stores. You can also get free sawdust from most lumber mills, carpenter shops, or home improvement centers. Be sure it is from untreated, unpainted wood.
  3. Add more baking soda. This neutralizes the natural acidity of most foods. We recommend two tablespoons at the start of each batch, and more if odors develop.
  4. Reduce moisture. Try to add fewer wet items, more dry items, and drip dry all items before adding. Water very often can block oxygen flow.
  5. Avoid paper. Some paper has chemicals which can cause odors.
  6. Limit or avoid highly acidic items, including lemon, lime, grapefruit, pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, grapes, berries, etc.
  7. Be sure the lid and door are closed tightly at all times. Wipe the seal areas if they are dirty.
  8. Be sure the unit is plugged in at all times, with the Power light on, the air pump humming, and heat easily detected in the mixing chamber.
  9. Be sure you have added two cups of ordinary garden soil at the first use. This introduces natural cultures into the mixing chamber.


What about the drip tray? back to top

The natural composting process produces water as a byproduct. Most of the water evaporates away. Some of it condenses and collects in the drip tray. Empty the drip tray when you empty the finished compost. This liquid is NOT compost tea. It may be harmful. There may also be chunks of compost in the drip tray - this is normal. It is also possible that the drip tray is completely dry.

The amount of liquid depends on the local humidity and the water content of the waste. Juicy items like melon, tomatoes, and lettuce have high water content, while sawdust, meat, and egg shells have low water content . Compost tea, in contrast, is made by mixing fully stabilized compost with water to create a liquid fertilizer.


The jam light came on - what should I do? back to top

If you follow the instructions carefully, the jam light should rarely come on. Jams are caused when large or hard or fiberous items are placed in the machine, or if the mixing chamber is compressed and overloaded. In the rare event that the jam light comes on, follow these instructions:

  1. Wait 24 hours. Possibly the jam will resolve itself as the mixing chamber heats up and any tough waste material further decomposes. Then, if the jam light is still on, press the OK button and the machine will try to clear the jam.
  2. If the machine is mostly or completely empty, jiggle the mixing bar to be sure it is slightly loose. Apply a few drops of olive oil to the two latches, which are located at the front and back of the mixing chamber, where they hit the mixing bar.
  3. If the upper trap door is open (you can see down into the center of the machine) AND the mixing bar is pressing against the top of the upper trap door: hold the OK button for 5 seconds and release. Ignore the rest of the instructions below and resume normal operation when the power light comes on.
  4. Remove and discard whatever is causing the jam. It is probably something wedged between the metal mixing wand and the floor of the reactor. Look for a thick wad of paper, or a large and hard object such as a steak bone, corn cob, or peach pit.
  5. Remove some waste material until the mixing chamber is mostly empty. Possibly the mixing chamber is just overloaded.
  6. If the mixing chamber is very dry and crusted over with hardened sawdust, break up some of the hardened material, and then add some water to soften up the material.
  7. In the future, try to avoid whatever material caused the jam. Be sure to tell other members of your household also.


How do I clean and maintain my NatureMill? back to top

DO NOT clean the inner reactor chamber, as this will destroy the compost cultures. NEVER use soaps or chemicals.

Wipe the exterior of the machine and the upper hopper with a damp paper towel.

If food waste is stuck to the walls of the mixing chamber, gently scrape it loose with a spoon. Leave the loose material where it is - it will mix into the compost in the next mixing cycle.

Remove any debris from the lip areas of the lid and side door. Wipe the cure tray area if you see any stray compost particles or liquid. Rinse the cure tray and drip tray with a garden hose when you empty them.

No maintenance is required other than replacing the air filter annually or as needed. You can purchase a new air filter from us, or replenish the carbon granules yourself for less.


Use in the kitchen, garage, or patio
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NatureMill is meant to be used in the kitchen, garage, patio, or outdoor location. Try to keep it as warm as possible because the compost cultures prefer heat. A freezing cold garage in winter is acceptable, although it may slow the composting process somewhat. The machine is well insulated and will have no problems with cold weather. A small internal heater will kick in if temperatures become extremely cold. Keep in a location that is between 32 and 120F (0-50C).

It is ok to get the machine wet in the rain, but keep the power supply dry. The unit requires a standard electrical outlet. For outdoor locations, we recommend an "in-use" outdoor electrical power outlet, available at most hardware stores.




Can I keep NatureMill inside a cabinet or closet? back to top

Yes. The unit just fits inside most standard kitchen cabinets. Please purchase the cabinet kit (on the Products page of our website). The unit is 20" high x 20" deep x 12" wide (51x51x12cm). Measure your cabinets to see if they are big enough. Under a sink is not always a good place because the pipes generally get in the way, although a cabinet near the sink should work. You will need an electrical outlet nearby.



Can I use NatureMill on a boat or RV? back to top

Yes. The unit itself runs on 12VDC (we provide an AC-to-DC transformer for our land-based customers). Assuming your vessel has a 12V DC system, you only need to wire power into the unit using standard connectors available at your local marine or electronics store. It draws 5-15 watts continuously. Excessive motion could cause the drip tray to leak into the cure tray, but this will have only a minor impact on compost quality. And of course, be sure you have a place to deposit the finished compost. Remember that finished compost has an organic aroma and should not be used indoors, unless it has had several days or weeks to cure and dry.


GARDENING TIPS

How do I use compost in my garden?
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Compost from your NatureMill is ready to use. It will not be fully "cured," which means that the compost cultures continue to be active. It may also have an organic aroma depending on what you put in the machine. These conditions are normal and not a problem, although you should follow the below instructions carefully especially if you do not have prior experience using compost. You can cure and dry the compost by leaving it in a outdoors for several days or weeks, in a small pile in the corner of your garden or in a bucket with a drain hole. This will also reduce the organic aroma if you plan to use the compost on indoor potted plants.

Use compost to fertilize your garden, lawn, trees, shrubs, or indoor potted plants. You may want to first stir the compost with a hand trowel to break apart clumps and remove any unwanted materials. You can also sift through a fine grain strainer for an aesthetically pleasing uniform particle size.

Spread a thin layer of compost over the soil, like mulch. Nutrients are released gradually during watering and when you till the soil seasonally. Each cure tray is ample for 10-40 sq ft (1-4 sq m) applied once or twice per year. You should NOT mix fresh compost into the soil unless you are an experienced gardener, because the high nitrogen concentration can harm sensitive roots. Never place plants in pure compost.

For more experienced gardeners, you can till fully stabilized compost into the top six inches of soil. First test for cure completion. If you are unsure about the level of curing, play it safe and use compost only on the surface of the soil. Any compost will be sufficiently cured by the time you till the soil or re-plant the following season.

You can add a layer of mulch on top of the compost, or use the compost itself as a kind of mulch. You can also sift the compost through a screen to make the particle size uniform (this is more for appearance than for function).

Read on for instructions on how to make "compost tea" liquid fertilizer....


What is compost tea?
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Another way to use compost is to mix it with water to create "compost tea" liquid fertilizer. The liquid that collects in the drip tray inside the machine is not compost tea - that liquid is not suitable for plants and should be discarded.

There are many opinions on how to make the perfect batch of compost tea, and how to apply the tea to plants. These range from the complex and expensive "bubbling brew" pumped air technique, to the more humble "sock tea-bag" approach. A search on the Internet will reveal many interesting techniques. We include here the simplest method:

Start with fully stabilized compost. This avoids all the bubbling equipment, and is safe for even the moist sensitive roots. To ensure your compost is fully stabilized, set it outside in a small pile (with plenty of air flow) for several months. It should be dark, odor free, and absent of any recognizable food chunks. In a large bucket, mix one part fully stabilized compost with 4 parts water. Let stand for several days or weeks, stirring periodically. Use the tea to water plants, or spray it on leaves. One or two treatments per year should be sufficient for most plants.



How to "cure" compost
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Fresh compost right from your unit can be used immediately on the surface of your lawn or garden. However, the compost is not yet cured. This means that trace amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, acids, and sugars remain in the material. As a result, the compost may attract beneficial insects. It may also have a mild organic odor. If the cultures are still at work, they continue to consume oxygen, and can take oxygen away from plant roots. If fresh compost is buried deep under soil and deprived of oxygen, the cultures may be destroyed and odors may result. The pH level may also fluctuate during the final phases of composting. For these reason, it is important to keep fresh compost on the soil surface only, with plenty of oxygen, and away from sensitive plant roots.

You can cure compost by allowing it to finish its natural reactions. Then you can use it indoors, mixed into soil near plant roots, or in compost tea. To cure your compost, just leave it in a pile in the corner of your lawn or garden for several days or weeks. A warm, breezy location is ideal. You can mix it into a regular compost pile of yard waste to accelerate reactions there. If you don't have a yard, you can cure in a bucket or flower pot on a roof or balcony. A drain hole is required, since compost produces a small amount of water as a byproduct. Leave uncovered to improve oxygen flow. Try to keep it moist. Cold, freezing, or rain will slow the curing process considerably but will not destroy the compost.

It is difficult to know when curing is 100% complete. An experienced gardener can tell just by looking at it, feeling it, and smelling it. A simple test is to place a few cups of compost into a plastic bag or jar, and seal it up tightly for 48 hours. If it develops a foul odor and looks soggy, then it is probably not yet fully cured. You can also send a sample away to a testing laboratory for detailed technical analysis.

Compost pH
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Compost has many properties that can improve the soil in your garden. One such property is pH, which is a measure of acidity. Most plants grow best in soil with a neutral pH, between 6 and 8. Fortunately, this is exactly the pH of healthy compost. You can check with your garden center or in plant books as the to the ideal pH level for each type of plant. And you can measure the pH level of your compost with inexpensive color strips, or electrical meters which you can buy online or in garden stores.

In some cases, your compost may have a low pH, which indicates acidity. This could be caused by: acidic inputs such as oranges, lemons, or limes; lack of oxygen which causes anaerobic conditions; or failure of compost cultures to activate. A high pH may be caused by insufficient "brown" material in the compost, resulting in ammonia gas (a strong alkaline) which you will smell in the compost. Neither high nor low pH of compost will be a problem if you keep the compost near the surface of the soil and away from sensitive roots. During the curing process, the compost will tend to reach a neutral pH. Never mix fresh, uncured compost into soil, and do not plant into pure compost.



What about my yard waste? back to top

NatureMill is designed to be used in the kitchen. It is really too small for yard waste. Besides, you may not want to carry messy yard waste into your home. From time to time, you may want to add a small amount (2 cups or 500 ml) of small dry leaves to increase the "brown" waste proportion.

For larger amounts of leaves, grass clippings, and plant debris, we recommend that you use an ordinary compost pile or bin in your yard. An Internet search will reveal a great deal of useful information on backyard composting. MasterComposter.com provides the best instructions we've seen. Here are a few additional tips of our own:

  1. Mix compost from your NatureMill with yard waste in your outdoor compost pile. The large number of compost cultures from your NatureMill will speed up the compost time for your compost pile.
  2. Branches and thick vines do not compost quickly. Chop them up for best results. If you have many of them we recommend a power chipper.
  3. Reduce yard waste by leaving grass clippings right on the lawn. The "grass cycling" process replenishes nutrients right back into the lawn with the minimum amount of work. It is true that the clippings may be unattractive at first, but they will dry out within a few days and you will hardly notice them.



OTHER RESOURCES


Tips for green living back to top

Here are some easy steps for living a more environmentally responsible existence:
  • Eliminate paper junk mail! This will greatly cut down on waste, as well as wasted time sorting your mail. Register online with the Direct Marketing Association here, or send a letter or postcard with your name, home address, and signature to:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512

  • Practice the "3Rs" - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The best way to cut down on waste is to eliminate it from the start. Try to buy products with less packaging - bulk items generally have less packaging per serving. Ask store clerks for minimal packaging and fewer shopping bags.
  • Write to your local and national representatives. An impressive number of laws and initiatives are being considered everywhere to reduce waste and improve the environment. Your active support can help.
  • Vote with your wallet. Support those shops, restaurants, and corporations that have strong environmental policies. Different companies may have very different records on recycling, packaging, and energy conservation. Tell them how important these issues are for you, and that you can take your business elsewhere. The most effective approach is to buy products that are minimally packaged and energy efficient, while avoiding the rest.
  • Educate your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. You may be surprised at how little other people know about recycling and conservation. Ask for (or volunteer for) a recycling program at work. A little encouragement can go a long way.


Reference information back to top

Composting is a broad topic with many fascinating scientific, social, and political nuances. A number of excellent resources are available on the Internet and elsewhere. We include below our favorites. If you have personal favorites, or if you find any errors below, please email us.


Products and tools:
  • composters.com - the largest selection of compost equipment and accessories that we've seen online.
  • gardeners.com - a wide selection of composting and gardening products.
  • gaiam.com - interesting products for green living

Background information:
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - has many technical studies available for download, as well as coverage of regional initiatives
  • Cornell Composting - a wealth of academic information, focusing on the chemistry and science of composting
  • Composting Council of Canada - learn about Canada's progressive compost movement
  • HowToCompost.org - provides in-depth articles and a very active user discussion group.
  • "Let it Rot" by Stu Cambpbell. Available at Amazon.com and elsewhere. This is one of the most popular books on home composting.
  • MasterComposter.com - chock full of practical information.
  • CompostGuide.com - general overview with a detailed list of materials to use or not use. Note that some of these recommendations do not apply to NatureMill.
  • GreenWeb - detailed insights, mostly for outdoor compost heaps.

Worm composting:


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