Composting & Eco Gardens

Backyard and worm composting are easy ways to recycle food scraps and yard trimmings back into valuable soil. Healthy soil is the foundation of a beautiful, bountiful garden. Using compost helps restore the soil's ability to grow healthy plants naturally and to absorb more water, which reduces water runoff and the need for irrigation. Soils high in organic matter promote plant growth without depending on chemical fertilizers.

Composting also reduces the amount of organic waste being sent to landfills, reduces the cost yard trimmings collection and processing, and represents a fun and easy family/community environmental education tool.

How to Compost - Composting 101: Basic Tips

As a composter, all you have to do is provide the right ingredients for nature's decomposers to go to work. The four main ingredients include Browns, Greens, Air and Water:Compost

  • Browns are dry, woody materials such as fallen leaves, pruned shrubbery, pine needles, newspaper, etc.
  • Greens are moist, nitrogen-rich materials such as fruit and vegetable trimmings, grass clippings, and fresh weeds
  • Air and water are the essential ingredients the decomposers use to turn Browns and Greens into compost

To make compost, combine Browns and Greens in more-or-less equal proportion, and make sure the pile has enough air and water to stay as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Your compost is ready to be used in when it it has a sweet, earthy smell and a dark, crumbly appearance. Any discernible food items can be screened out and added to the compost pile.

For more detailed tips and composting recipes, check out the following guides:

Community Composting Resources

Join us for free composting workshops through the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Composting Education Program; find a class and register online.

Are you a County school administrator or teacher? You can request for a Master Composter through the Composting Education Program to provide free instructional support such as a classroom worm composting demo and assistance in diverting lunchroom waste.

Become a Master Composter

The Santa Clara County Master Composter Training Program provides valuable, no-cost training for community members interested in gaining an advanced level of knowledge and experience with composting. Learn the bay-friendly philosophy to a sustainable garden, the best way to build healthy soil to amend with compost or mulch and how to identify beneficial bugs and common garden pests. Upon graduating from the program, Master Composters will be required to serve the greater Santa Clara community by providing educational opportunities, site based demonstrations, technical assistance and event tabling.

Call the Rotline at 408-918-4640 for information about free workshops and register to become a Master Composter.

South Bay Green GardensSouth Bay Green Gardens

South Bay Green Gardens is a coalition of local Santa Clara County agencies educating the public on sustainable landscape practices. South Bay Green Gardens provides valuable resources, including:

  • Plant lists
  • Fact sheets and "how-to" designs
  • Free, local workshops (see event calendar)
  • Irrigation tips
  • Interactive garden tours
  • Landscape design strategies

Learn more on how you can preserve our environment, one landscape at a time, by visiting South Bay Green Gardens!