WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR PARTY SUPPLIES AFTER THE PARTY!
Dig a hole in the ground and place in all the disposable tableware, disposable decorations and organic food scraps that you have collected from the party.
Place the same items in to your compost. Some items decompose quicker than others (e.g. balloons biodegrade at the general rate of an oak leaf - which may be as long as 12 months). The speed of composting is often dependent on the quality of the soil.
HOW TO COMPOST
Composting is a very simple process that requires minimal maintenance. With an understanding of the fundamentals, the composting material and a space set out in your garden, you'll be ready to build a compost pile.
Compost is made by billions of microbes (fungi, bacteria, etc.) that digest the yard and kitchen wastes (food) you provide for them. If the pile is cool enough, worms, insects, and their relatives will help out the microbes. All of these will slowly make compost out of your yard waste and kitchen scraps. However these living things need air, water, and food. If you maintain your pile to provide for their needs, they'll happily turn your yard and kitchen wastes into compost much more quickly.
The benefit of compost is that it adds organic matter, which improves the way water interacts with the soil. In sandy soils, compost acts as a sponge to help retain water in the soil that would otherwise drain down below the reach of plant roots. In clay soils, compost helps to add porosity (tiny holes and passageways) to the soil, making it drain more quickly so that it doesn't stay waterlogged and doesn't dry out. Microbes in the compost are then able to extract nutrients from the mineral part of the soil and eventually pass the nutrients on to plants.
Here are the basic rules to keep your compost healthy:
Its important to make sure that there are plenty of air passageways into your compost pile. To make sure that you have adequate aeration for your pile and its composting microbes, thoroughly break up or mix in any ingredients that might mat down (like grass) and exclude air. You can also turn the pile to get air into it, which means completely breaking it apart with a spade or garden fork and then piling it back together again.
Moisture is important. Ideally, your pile should have a thin film of water coating every particle in the pile, making it very easy for microbes to live and disperse themselves throughout the pile. If your pile is too dry, composting will be slowed significantly. If your pile is too wet it will exclude air from the pile, again slowing the composting process. If you are using dry ingredients, such as autumn leaves or straw, you'll need to moisten them as you add them to the pile.
There are two major kinds of food that composting microbes need.
'Browns' are dry and dead plant materials such as straw, dry brown weeds, autumn leaves, and wood chips or sawdust. Our eco party tableware fits in to this category. These materials are mostly made of chemicals that are just long chains of sugar molecules linked together. As such, these items are a source of energy for the compost microbes. Because they tend to be dry, browns often need to be moistened before they are put into a compost system.
'Greens' are fresh (and often green) plant materials such as green weeds from the garden, kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps, green leaves, coffee grounds and tea bags etc. Compared to browns, greens have more nitrogen in them. Nitrogen is a critical element in amino acids and proteins, and can be thought of as a protein source for the billions of multiplying microbes.
A good mix of browns and greens is the best nutritional balance for the microbes.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
If you live in a cold climate, your compost pile will probably go dormant in the winter but will start back up again in spring when it is warmer.
A common misunderstanding about compost piles is that they must be hot to be successful. This isn't true. If you have good aeration and moisture, and the proper ingredient mix, your pile will decompose well at temperatures of 10 degrees celsius or more. Hotter piles will decompose a bit faster. For a pile to get hot and stay hot for a long period of time, the typical minimum size for the pile is one cubic meter (a cube one meter, or about three feet, on a side). A pile this size has plenty of mass in which those billions of heat-generating microbes can live, yet is also large enough that the center of the pile is well-insulated by the material surrounding it. Smaller piles just cannot insulate themselves well enough to remain hot for long, if at all.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOUR COMPOST IS COMPLETED
Finished compost is dark in color and has an earthy smell (like the smell of soil). Usually, it's difficult to recognize any of the original ingredients, although bits of hard-to-decompose materials sometimes can be seen.
COMPOST IN THE GARDEN SOIL: Many people put compost into their garden soil by digging it in prior to spring planting. Others actually do their composting in the soil, by burying kitchen wastes and other materials in trenches in the garden. Compost can also be used as a 'top dressing' on the soil during the growing season - in this case it is added in around the bases of plants, where irrigation and soil animals will slowly incorporate it into the soil.
COMPOST AS MULCH: Mulches protect the soil from erosion. They also save water by shielding soil from the drying effect of the wind and sun. Compost can be left on the surface as a mulch around landscape and garden plants. As they decompose, mulches add nutrients to the soil, and if composed of small-enough particles, worms may slowly eat the mulch and incorporate it into the soil.
The following items can be added to your compost pile:
Be cautious to add grass clippings in very thin layers, or thoroughly mix them in with other compost ingredients, as they otherwise tend to become slimy and matted down, excluding air from the pile.
Be sure that any hay you plan to compost is well-moistened prior to adding it to the pile.
Kitchen scraps need to be mixed in with drier/bulkier materials to allow complete air penetration. Many people compost their kitchen waste in enclosed worm bins or bury them 8" deep in the soil. Avoid composting meat scraps, fatty food wastes, milk products, and bones as these materials are very attractive to pests.
Leaves can mat down and exclude air so be sure that any clumps are thoroughly broken up, or that the leaves are only used in very thin layers.
Dry straw is a good material for helping to keep a compost pile aerated, because it tends to create lots of passageways for air to get into the pile. Be sure to wet the straw, as it is very slow to decompose otherwise.
WEEDS AND OTHER GARDEN WASTES
Avoid weeds that have begun to go to seed, as seeds may survive all but the hottest compost piles
WOOD CHIPS AND SAWDUST
Stir sawdust thoroughly into the pile or use very thin layers. Coarse wood chips will very slowly decay, and are probably better used as mulch.
Whether because of toxins, plant or human diseases, or weed troubles, there are some things that shouldn't be put into compost piles. Avoid composting the following materials:
*CHEMICALLY-TREATED WOOD PRODUCTS
*MEAT, BONES, AND FATTY FOOD WASTES
*HUMAN WASTES - Human feces can contain disease organisms that will make people very sick. Composting human feces safely requires that the compost pile reach high (thermophilic) temperatures over a period of time.
*PET WASTES - Dog and cat feces may carry diseases that can infect humans. It is best NEVER to use them in compost piles. Some people do bury them 8" deep in the soil, but ONLY in areas where food crops are never grown.
We use a natural open air compost but you may want to install another type of compost in your garden. See:www.compostsolution.com/composting for more info.