Composting might seem daunting at first, but it’s not much different from baking a cake when you think about it. It is enough to have precise quantities of certain ingredients and instructions for use.
When composting, follow a few simple rules and you will have “black gold” for all your gardening needs. Just like cooking, compost can be as simple, or complicated, as you want it to be. Here we’ll cover the basics of simple composting to help keep food waste out of landfills, while creating an amazing soil amendment.
Home Compost: Key Benefits of Composting
What is compost?
Basically, all organic matter eventually decomposes, but composting increases the rate of decomposition. Effective composting creates an ideal environment for bacteria and other decomposing microorganisms. When done correctly, the finished product looks like “fertile garden soil” and can help the soil thrive, whether it’s flowers, plants. Many describe it as dark, crumbly and earthy-smelling.
The decomposing organisms are as follows
The four key factors for thriving compost are:
In a way, a compost pile reminds me of the human intestine, which is teeming with organisms. Compost is a “probiotic” for the soil, adding and nourishing microorganisms and nutrients that can improve the health of grass, trees, plants and garden crops. In fact, avoiding over-sanitizing foods can help you introduce some human-beneficial soil organisms into your diet.
But back to domestic compost…
Creating homemade compost has many benefits. Here are a few :
Enriches the soil, helps retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests.
It helps plants retain more moisture during periods of drought, which is increasingly common with climate change.
Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
Improving soil structure to help prevent erosion, which is an important part of regenerative agriculture.
Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a nutrient-rich material.
Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
Provides a free amendment for gardens and lawns.
The Essentials of Composting
Again, composting can be as simple as baking a cake. For the purposes of this article, we are focusing on household waste other than manure, such as grass clippings and food scraps.
The following tips are the most important for creating a compost heap or compost bin:
Choose a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
Add brown and green materials as they are collected, making sure large pieces are chopped or shredded, such as garlic husks and onion husks.
Moisten the dry materials as they are added.
Once your compost pile is well established, mix grass clippings and green waste into it, and bury fruit and vegetable waste under the compost.
This is optional, but some people choose to cover the top of the compost with a tarp to keep it moist. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes between two months and two years.
The essential nitrogen-rich elements for compost are:
Fruit and vegetable waste
The coffee grounds
The essential elements of compost, rich in carbon, are the following:
Torn cardboard (preferably without ink and untreated)
Sawdust and wood pellets tend to be very high in carbon, so they are best avoided.
When you think about it, composting can be summed up in these three fundamental points:
Buy or build the right container.
Get the mix right when it comes to ingredients. Too much nitrogen or carbon creates an imbalanced compost pile.
Follow a few simple rules. Turn your compost pile every week or two, and keep it moist, but not too moist!
Keep these things out of the heap or bin
To reduce the risk of introducing dangerous pathogens and harmful chemicals like phthalates into your compost pile, you should avoid throwing certain items into your compost pile.
Here are the things I don’t put in my compost bin. Do not put them in the compost:
Clothes dryer fluff and vacuum cleaner dust
Dairy products, meat, bones and other animal products
Coal ash or charcoal
Paper (some recommend it, but it may contain chemicals that are toxic to printer ink, so I avoid it).
All garden waste that may be contaminated with pesticides.
Composting food waste helps keep easily biodegradable waste from ending up in our landfills, while providing an organic amendment for your garden. Home composting can reduce your need to buy store compost, saving you money and protecting you from biosolids, or human sewage sludge, often bagged and sold as “organic compost.” You can build or buy a compost bin, a wringer, or just use a compost pile.
It usually takes between six months and two years for compost to be made at home. Composting is as simple as creating a compost pile or compost bin and filling it with green waste, such as grass clippings and food scraps, brown and carbonaceous waste such as fallen leaves and the branches, and a little water. There are some things you shouldn’t compost. These include animal products, coal or charcoal ashes, dryer lint, greases and oils, and chemically treated yard waste.