Composting is a great way to involve the entire family in an environmentally friendly outdoor project. But what exactly is compost and how does it get from the kitchen to the ground?

Compost is the organic material that remains after biodegradable substances have completely broken down into rich, dark humus. Gardeners refer to this rich dark earth as “black gold”.

Compost decomposes based on the right combination of ingredients, oxygen, moisture content and temperature.

Compost requires a good mixture of ingredients to actively decompose. Regular aeration of your compost pile adds the oxygen required for aerobic bacteria to do its job. Your compost pile should be moist but not wet. Think of your compost pile in terms of a wrung-out sponge. It should be able to absorb water and not be too wet.

Use caution when it comes to invasive plant species (for further information on Yukon invasive plant species visit www.yukoninvasives.com), diseased plants, milk and dairy products, weeds and sod.

There are great compost bins on the market that makes the task easier. However, you can create your own compost pile by simply digging a hole in your backyard and covering it with a black tarp to hold in the heat. If your compost bin has a lid, keep an eye on the moisture content to make sure the compost pile is getting an adequate supply of water.

Compost bins that tumble are a great way for oxygen to be added to the mixture. Alternatively, you can use a pitch fork to regularly turn the refuse.

Compost needs heat to decay, so position your compost in a full sun area. Temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius will result in the fastest decomposition.

What you add into your compost will greatly improve nature’s ability to break down the substances. A mixture of 25-per-cent green waste (such as vegetable peels and fruit rinds) and 75-per-cent brown waste (leaves and yard waste) is ideal.

Why not try composting in your backyard? The gift to your garden (not to mention the environment) is a highly rewarding experience.