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Composting 
Welcome to Riverside County's Backyard Composting Program! This program has been developed to aid the residents of Riverside County in composting their organic material, into a useful product and keep more waste out of our landfills.
 
Nature's Way of RecyclingComposting is just Nature’s way of recycling.  By definition, composting is the controlled decomposition of organic material such as leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and vegetable food waste.  Compost is the valuable soil product that results from proper composting.  Composting helps to keep the high volume of organic material out of our landfills and turns that material into a useful product. With organics making up a significant part of California’s municipal waste, onsite composting reduces the cost of hauling garbage and operating landfills.  Compost is great for gardens and landscaping, and you can save money by buying less soil conditioner, mulch, and fertilizer.

Composted material is actually rather expensive to buy. Anyone with a little extra room in a garden, a little extra time, and a good source of compostable materials can produce good, high quality compost in as little as 6 weeks.  When you compost, you return the earth's nutrients back to the soil, where your plants absorb them and grow healthy and strong.  Healthy plants are far more resistant to diseases and pests. Instead of throwing away your organic waste, compost them! Be a part of prolonging the life of Riverside County's landfill space by composting at home.

It is a satisfying way to turn fruit, vegetable and yard trimmings into a dark, crumbly, sweet smelling soil conditioner. Composting is fun, easy, and educational.
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 Compost Video
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Check out this how-to video by the non-profit group, Kitchen Gardeners International, that shows you step-by step-instructions for composting.


Compost Workshop Locations and Schedule
(To be notified of any changes to the Backyard Composting Schedule via e-mail, click to SUBSCRIBE)
 
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Attend a FREE workshop and get information about how to compost yard, fruit, and vegetable trimmings at home. Residents of Riverside County, California, can buy low cost compost bins or obtain instructions for building your own backyard compost bin.
 
Geobin $12
  • Bins available for purchase by Riverside County residents only.
  • Only checks are accepted at workshops. 
    Compost bins are also available at the RCWMD Administration Office, M-Th, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.  Cash, Checks, and Credit Cards (Visa and MasterCard only) accepted only at RCWMD Administration Office.
  • Subject to availability.
  • Limit of 3 compost bins per household.
Events may close due to inclement weather. If you require reasonable accommodations, please call our main office at least one week before the event. 

 
The schedule below is subject to change without notice.  Please check back often for schedule updates. 
 
Workshop Location
Address
Date and Operating Hours
10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Event flyer (including map and directions
Lake Elsinore
Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District
31315 Chaney Street
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
February 1, 2014
Banning
Banning Community Center
769 San Gorgonio Avenue
Banning, CA 92220
February 22, 2014
Calimesa
Norton Younglove Senior Center
908 Park Avenue

Calimesa, CA 92320
March 1, 2014
Blythe
City of Blythe Todd Park (In Front of Senior Citizen Center)  445 N Broadway
Blythe, CA 92225
March 15, 2014
San Jacinto
City of San Jacinto Community Center
625 South Pico Avenue
San Jacinto, CA  92583
March 22, 2014
Palm Springs
Demuth Community Center
3601 East Mesquite Avenue
Palm Springs, CA 92264
March 29, 2014
Highgrove
Highgrove Library
530 West Center Street
Riverside, CA 92507
April 12, 2014
Murrieta
Murrieta Public Library
Eight Town Square
Murrieta, CA  92562
April 19, 2014
Riverside
Stratton Center at Bordwell Park
2008 Martin Luther King Blvd
Riverside, CA  92507
April 26, 2014
Indian Wells
City of Indian Wells Council Chambers
44-950 Eldorado Drive
Indian Wells, CA  92210
May 3, 2014
Corona
Home Gardens Library
3785 Neece S
treet
Corona, CA 92879
May 10, 2014
Idyllwild
Idyllwild Nature Center (entrance fee required)
25225 Highway 243
Idyllwild, CA 92549
May 31, 2014
Canyon Lake
City of Canyon Lake Multipurpose Room
31516 Railroad Canyon Road
Canyon Lake, CA  92587
June 7, 2014
Moreno Valley
Riverside County Waste Management Department Headquarters
14310 Frederick Street
Moreno Valley, CA 92553 
(Special - Hands On Class)
June 14, 2014
Moreno Valley
Riverside County Waste Management Department Headquarters
14310 Frederick Street
Moreno Valley, CA 92553 
(Special Workshop - Worm Bin Building Workshop 8:00 am to noon. 
Reservations required, please contact the Department for information)
June 21, 2014
Jurupa Valley
Jurupa Community Services District
11201 Harrel Street
Riverside (Mira Loma), CA 91752
June 28, 2014
Wildomar
Mission Trail Library
34303 Mission Trail 
Wildomar, CA  92595
July 12, 2014
Norco
Norco Library
3954 Old Hamner Road
Norco, CA 92860
July 19, 2014
Perris
City of Perris Senior Center
100 North D Street
Perris, CA 92570
July 26, 2014
Hemet
Hemet Public Library
300 East Latham Avenue
Hemet, CA 92543
September 6, 2014
 PDF
Palm Springs
Demuth Community Center
3601 East Mesquite Avenue
Palm Springs, CA 92264
September 13, 2014
Riverside
Renck Community Center (Hunt Park)
4015 Jackson Street
Riverside, CA 92503
September 20, 2014
Moreno Valley
Riverside County Waste Management Department Headquarters
14310 Frederick Street
Moreno Valley, CA 92553
(Special Workshop - Worm Bin Building Workshop 9:00 am to noon. 
Reservations required, please contact the Department for information)
October 4, 2014
PDF
Moreno Valley
Riverside County Waste Management Department Headquarters
14310 Frederick Street
Moreno Valley, CA 92553
October 18, 2014
Palm Desert
Coachella Valley Water District
75-515 Hovley Lane East
Palm Desert, CA 92211
October 25, 2014
Jurupa Valley
Louis Robidoux Library
5840 Mission Blvd.
Jurupa Valley, CA 92509
November 1, 2014
Temecula Area
County of Riverside EDA
Workforce Development Center
30135 Technology Drive, Murrieta, CA 92563
November 8, 2014 PDF
Indio
Indio Library
200 Civic Center Mall
Indio, CA  92201
November 22, 2014
 

How to Compost
Composting is nature's way of recycling plant wastes into a beneficial soil amendment. Compost is a rich, dark, earthy smelling soil that is best used when it is turned into the ground. It provides nutrients for plants that are easy for plants to assimilate and acts as a sponge to keep water available for plants. Sometimes chemical fertilizers may be too strong for some plants and could damage plant growth. Compost makes healthy soil and in return you will have healthy plants that can naturally fight pests and diseases.
 
natureswayhandout
Click HERE to download the "Nature's Way of Recycling" compost guide.

 

Selecting a good spot for composting
Composting can be done in the sun or shade in Riverside County. Pick a spot that is convenient to the kitchen or garden and close to a source of water. Keep the pile away from structures and wood because the material will be moist and could hasten decay in a structure. Always place the compost pile on bare ground. Essential organisms from the soil are needed to breakdown the material. Plus, water used to moisten the pile will need to runoff and needs a place to leach into the soil.

 

Compost Bins
Low cost compost bins are available (subject to availability) for purchase by Riverside County residents only. Proof of residency in Riverside County is required.

  • Compost bins are available at Backyard Composting Workshops.  Only checks are accepted at workshops.
  • Compost bins are also available at the Management Department headquarters, M-Th, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.  Cash, Checks, and Credit Cards (Visa and MasterCard only) accepted.
You can also build your own bin using supplies found at the hardware store. To obtain plans to build a compost bin click on the link below.
 
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              Geobin $12                                    Plans to build your own bin
 
Compost Ingredients
When composting, we are just accelerating the natural decomposition of plant material. By controlling the environment of the compost pile you can determine how fast or slow you complete the compost process. There are four basic ingredients in the compost pile: nitrogen, carbon, water, and air.
 
  • Nitrogen - Green materials such as grass clippings, fresh leaves and twigs, vegetable and fruit trimmings, coffee grounds and filters, and non-meat eating animal manures (chicken, rabbit, horse, sheep or goat). Most any plant material that has moisture or ‘life’ still in it is considered a green material.
  • Carbon - Brown materials that have released their nitrogen are usually dry and brittle. Dry leaves and grasses, straw, wood chips, corn stalks, shredded newspaper, paper towels, napkins, and cardboard are all good carbon rich examples.
  • Water - Adding water to the pile will balance the correct moisture level. The proper moisture should be about the same as a damp wrung out sponge. Few drops should fall when the material is squeezed in your hand.
  • Air - Oxygen is very important to the organisms that are working in the pile to breakdown the organic material. Bacteria, fungi, microorganisms, and insects need oxygen to breathe and air space in which to move throughout the pile.
 
There are ingredients that you will want to avoid in the compost pile. They can create odors or attract unwanted pests, or have pathogens that won’t be broken down by the heat of a compost pile.
 
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                            “Greens”                                                         “Browns”
 
  • Don’t put any meat, dairy products, fats, or oils into the compost pile. These materials tend to putrefy instead of breaking down, and will attract a wide variety of pests, including flies, rats, raccoons, stray dogs and cats, etc.
  • Don’t put dog and cat wastes into the compost pile. The fecal material from any animal that eats meat contains several pathogens which will survive the compost process.
  • Don’t put thorny plant material in the compost pile. The thorns might not break down completely and you could get stuck when you are digging in the garden or compost pile with your hands.
  • Don’t add diseased plant material in the pile. The disease may not be killed by the heat of the pile and transfer to other plants when you use the finished compost in the garden.
 
Methods of Composting
 
  • Aerobic Composting in a Bin or Pile is simple and effective. The key to this method is the size of the pile. You’ll want a heap about 3’x3’x3’ or one square yard. This gives you a volume of material that creates the proper environment for maximum production in the pile. If the pile is too small, the material won’t breakdown. If the pile is too large, it will be difficult to manage and it will be slow to compost.
Assemble the pile using green and brown material. Start with equal parts, an easy way to mix and measure at the same time is to layer the organics in 1" to 2" alternating layers adding water in between. After assembling, water well and cover the pile with a tarp, carpet, or an opaque plastic sheet. This will help hold heat and moisture. If you have selected to use a compost bin, you will need to build these layers in the bin.
 
You can keep adding materials to the pile, but this will slow the process. Most composters don’t have enough material available at one time so might take a few weeks to gather the materials together. The center of the pile will reach temperatures of 120 to 160 degrees when the micro organisms are working. These temperatures do the ‘cooking’ to kill bacteria that are harmful and prevent the germination of seeds when the compost is used. The temperature will stay up as long as there is material to be broken down and you are actively mixing the material. You will notice that the pile is hot for a few days; then it will begin to cool. This means it is time to turn and mix the pile to add oxygen and water if needed.
 

Turn the pile weekly. Frequent turning will help speed-up the break-down of the material. Continue composting until the pile has a dark rich look like chocolate cake and the things you put in don’t look like their original form.

After it appears that the compost is done, water well, cover, and let it rest for one to two weeks to make sure it is completely done and the nitrogen has a chance to stabilize. If the compost is used too soon it could rob nutrients from the surrounding plants. After resting, it is ready to sift through a ½" hardware cloth strainer to remove the large chunks or simply rake through and pick out the big pieces that need more time to break down (use these in the next pile for a quick start because they already have the bacteria and fungi on them). Larvae, insects, and grubs should also be removed before you incorporate the compost into your soil.

Start to finish, you can have completed compost in 6 weeks to 2 years. It all depends on the material, method, and the effort you put into it. The more actively you maintain the pile the faster you will receive your reward.

 
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             Aerobic Composting                                       Anaerobic Composting
 
  • Anaerobic composting in a bin or pile is using the same materials as above, but you are not actively turning and mixing the materials. It is slower to make compost and could take a year or two. Since the pile doesn’t heat-up, seeds would not be killed. It’s real easy, just pile the stuff, water, cover, and wait. The compost is still beneficial to your soil and you will have kept it out of the landfill.
 
  • Vermicomposting or Vermiculture is a composting method where worms convert food scraps into two of the best amendments on earth: worm castings, a fancy name for worm poop, and worm tea, a liquid fertilizer derived from either castings and/or the leachate collected from a worm bin. Vermicomposting is a great way to compost for people who don’t have yard waste, live in apartments, condominiums, or mobile home parks. The worms do most of the work so it would also be an easy method for someone who doesn’t have the strength to do regular composting with yard waste. This type of composting can also be done in a classroom. recyc_compost7
This is a completely different system from backyard composting because it does not use yard waste, and is most commonly done in a container which allows for the collection of the lechate. It is neat, easy and odorless when done correctly.
Click HERE for instructions to build a vermicomposting bin. 
 
Make Your Own Worm Bin Workshop - Saturday, October 4, 2014
9:00 a.m. to noon.
Reservations required.  For additional information, please  call (951) 486-3200. 
 
Using Compost
Not only does compost help the environment, but it can help your garden, yard, and house plants too. After about 6 weeks or when compost looks like soil and smells sweet and earthy, it is ready to use. Here are some of the most common ways to use compost.
 
 
  • In the Garden - Before planting, mix a 4" to 8" layer of compost into newly reclaimed or poor soils. Dig the compost into the top 6” to 12” inches of soil. Mix a 1/2" to 3" layer of compost into annual garden beds at least once a year. Compost will add nutrients and beneficial microbes, hold water, and improve plant growth.
  • Around the Yard - Spread a 2" to 6" layer of coarse compost on soil as a mulch, a thick layer of mulch will prevent weed or plant growth. Spread a 1/2" layer of sifted, weed-seed-free compost on turfgrass as a top dressing. Compost can be used any time o the year to improve soil fertility and reduce watering needs.
  • On House Plants - Sprinkle a thin layer of compost over house plant soil to provide nutrients.
  • Don't Have a Garden? - You can still make compost and use it on a house plant, give it to a friend, sprinkle it around a street tree, or donate it to a community garden.
  • Compost Tea - Now that you have a completed pile of compost, it’s Tea Time! Not for you, but for your plants. Place one shovel full of completed compost in a burlap bag or old pillow case, tie it with a string, then sink it into a 5 gallon bucket of fresh water. Let the tea steep for 24 hours and remove bag of compost for later use in the soil. Apply ‘tea’ to plants like a regular watering application. The tea will not burn the leaves and provides a nutritious drink for your houseplants or outside ornamentals.
 
Other methods to reduce yard waste
If composting doesn’t appeal to you, then consider some other methods you can use around the garden to reduce waste going to the landfill.
 
  • Grasscycling - By grasscycling, you will be leaving the freshly mowed clippings on your lawn, as it falls it will create a mulch to help with moisture retention. As the clippings begin to decompose, they will provide nutrients to the grass, reducing the amount of fertilizer needed for a healthy lawn. The method requires more frequent mowing, but the return is less time bagging and dumping the grass clippings. The smaller the grass trimming, the faster it will breakdown. Mulching mowers are designed for this purpose because after they cut, the clipping is further cut into even smaller pieces, then it is blown down into the grass, so it doesn’t sit on top of the lawn. Mulching mowers are great, but not necessary for grasscycling. Less water and fertilizer will be need with proper Grasscycling.image 
     
 
 
  • Mulching - Compost can be created easily by using organic materials as mulch. When laid on the surface of the ground the mulch will slowly breakdown and release some nutrients into the soil. This process takes a longer period of time, but the benefits of moisture retention and lack of effort it takes, make it one of the more simple and easy methods to reduce waste going to the landfill. Materials need to be of organic nature such as leaves, grass clippings, shredded bark, and even shredded newspaper.
 
  • Burying - You can always bury your organic material. Common methods are trenching, hole, and post hole. This method takes a longer period of time to breakdown, but it enriches the soil directly and nutrients are not lost by gassing off into the atmosphere when the material is left on top of the soil. You’ll want to bury the material about a foot deep to discourage insects and other pests. The depth of the hole will also determine how deep you want to place the nutrients for future gardening. Trenching is when you dig a trench, and back fill it with kitchen scraps. Always cover food waste with six to twelve inches of soil. The hole and posthole method are about the same with the exception that with the posthole you can make your holes on a daily basis.
 
Bulk Sources for Compost
For a list of Compost Producers where bulk (truckloads) quantities of compost can be obtained, click HERE.
 

 



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