Composting FAQs

Thank you for doing your part to support a sustainable Largo! View the composting frequently asked questions, including how to best set-up your bin.

HOW DO I...?

how do I sign up to receive a bin?
Please complete an interest form online. For questions about whether or not you can have a bin delivered to your home contact Largo Public Works at Compost@Largo.com or 727-586-7418. There are bin shortages from time to time, so if you have not received your bin within 12 weeks of signing up, please email or call.
what should I compost?
GREENS
  • Fruit and vegetable peels, cores and scrapes
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Pasta, rice, grains
  • Egg shells
  • Flowers and unused vegetables
  • Plant and hedge trimmings
  • Small amounts of grass
BROWNS
  • Paper towels, napkins, tissues, coffee filters
  • Stale breads
  • Human and pet hair
  • Dryer lint
  • Dried leaves, hay straw
  • Twigs and chipped wood
  • Most dried weeds and small amounts of dried grass
WATER
  • Be sure sure to keep your compost pile wet, but not soaked, to make sure it breaks down. (Tip: As wet as a wrung out sponge.)

TIP: Chop large materials so they will break down faster.
what should I not compost?
  • Bones, meat, fish and seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Fats and oils
  • Pet waste
  • Coal or treated wood as
  • Large, unchopped materials
  • Excessive grass
  • Weeds that have gone to seed
  • Diseased plants and leaves
  • Damaged weeds (ie crabgrass)
  • Charcoal
how do I set up my bin?
Setting up your bin is as easy as 1-2-3! 
  1. Attach the harvest door
  2. Place the pegs into the ground
  3. Attach the lid
Be sure to find a spot in your yard that has good drainage and that is close to your door to make composting even easier.
what is a good ratio of greens, browns and water?
GREENS AND BROWNS
The key is to have 60% browns and 40% greens at all times and when in doubt, add more browns! Too many greens may leave your pile smelly and slimy, and may even attract flies, bugs, and rodents. Make sure to avoid pushing down the compost to make more room for new material, which will push air out of the pile and stop the process.

WATER
Watering your pile is a very important part of maintenance, and it should always be kept at about 60% moisture- think like a damp sponge! When in doubt, try the "Squeeze Test":
  1. Push aside the top layer of compost (with gloves!)
  2. Take a small handful of compost and squeeze firmly in your hand
  3. If it falls apart in your hand, it is too dry- add water or use rainwater
  4. If water pours out or streams from in between your fingers, it is too wet. Let it air out or add more browns to help dry it out.
Tips for easy kitchen storage?
Small containers can be kept on your kitchen counter or under your kitchen sink for easy disposal of items. There are a number of kitchen bins available for purchase that range in style and size so find the one that works best for you! Most of these bins are designed to hold scraps of food to eventually add to the compost bin rather than to perform the composting action itself.

Many of these bins can be used with small, biodegradable liners that can go into your actual compost bin. Be sure not to use plastic bags, or bags that are made of materials that cannot go into your composting bin. To ensure that your materials "cook" fast, empty them out of the bag and into the compost bin and place the biodegradable bag with those items.
How often should I add water and "turn" materials in my bin?
"Turning" your compost helps to make sure that the materials are well-mixed and will help to break down your materials more quickly.

  • Mix occasionally (every 1-2 weeks) by turning the pile with a compost turner, pitchfork or shovel to allow air circulation
  • Do NOT mix freshly added layers
  • Check moisture regularly; add water if it’s too dry, or add "browns" if it’s too wet
  • Add enough moisture so the pile is about as wet as a wrung-out sponge
  • While turning is the best method, you can also place a 2" PVC pipe vertically into the center of the compost pile to help with aeration. Be sure to drill holes into the pipe to allow for proper airflow!
when will my compost be ready to use?
  • Within the first week, you should notice the pile is warm and may have a slightly sweet, pleasant smell – your compost is "cooking!"
  • Remove finished compost as needed after 8-12 weeks through the lower harvest door to use on gardens, lawns, trees, shrubs and houseplants.
  • Use this soil around your yard, or in your gardens, for your potted plants, in any other way you would use normal soil- just without the fertilizer! This will help to help reduce the need for fertilizer and herbicides, improve the health of your yard, and reduce your carbon footprint.
How do I incorporate worms for "vermicomposting"?
The University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) provides some information on how to get started with vermicomposting. Learn more at Worms-Vermicomposting - UF/IFAS Extension (ufl.edu)
Tips for dealing with bugs and pests?
There are easy and human ways to ensure rodents don't get into your bin and even to get rid of them if they are already there. Follow these tips to help resolve the problem:
  • Ensure there are no scattered or uncovered food scraps
  • Add new items only to the center of the pile so that they are not easily accessible from the sides
  • Layer browns and greens, with browns on the top and sides of your pile
  • Make sure your bin is closed and locked
  • Avoid using fats, oils, greases, meats, or other non-compostable items in your pile
  • Avoid or remove clutter around your bin
  • Try changing things up! Rodents are creatures of habit, so changing your bin location, watering practices, or layering could resolve the problem
  • Remember, rats and other rodents are part of the food chain and an important source of food for local birds of prey and other animals. Please DO NOT poison them
What else should I know?
Other tips to make sure you have rich soil in no time include:
  • DO chop materials into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition
  • DO turn and circulate air into your compost materials
  • DO keep your compost materials moist, but not very wet
  • DO add already-finished compost, or a compost accelerator can be mixed into the pile to accelerate decomposition
  • DO always cover green materials with a top layer of brown materials (this will help avoid any smells)
  • DO keep the ratio at approximately 3-parts browns to 2-parts greens
  • DON'T put fats, oils, grease or bones in your bin (this will help avoid any smells)
  • DON’T put in weeds that have gone to seed
  • DON’T put in human or pet waste
  • DON’T try to compost in a container that has no air access
For questions about composting, acceptable materials and other issues with your soil, contact Keep Pinellas Beautiful. For questions about your compost bin or requesting bin delivery, contact Largo Public Works at Compost@largo.com.

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