Why Should You Start Composting?
Composting reuses biodegradable waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Although some areas have composting programs in place, most waste is usually either incinerated or allowed to rot in landfill sites. Unfortunately, both these practices release harmful pollutants into the air, such as methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and more.
By having a compost bin in your home or garden, you are effectively upcycling kitchen or yard waste. You’re transforming this waste into a great source of nutrients for your garden or indoor plants. In the process, you also help reduce your carbon footprint as well as your impact on the environment. As far as both you and the planet are concerned, it’s a win-win situation.
What Can You Put in Your Compost?
To make compost, you will need to combine two types of waste: brown waste, rich in carbon, and nitrogen-rich green waste. Here are some items you can add to your compost heap:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen
- Grass clippings
- Dead plants
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
- Brown leaves
- Twigs, bark and wood chips
- Shredded paper and cardboard
Ideally, the green to brown waste ratio should be one-part greens to three-parts browns.
Some types of waste should never be added to your compost bin. For example, plastic, glass or metal waste is not organic, which means that it won’t decompose. Other materials, such as meat, bones, oil, dairy products or pet waste, can release very unpleasant smells as they begin to break down and can result in health and hygiene issues. Also, avoid using garden waste that has been treated with pesticides, weeds and plants that have died as a result of fungal or bacterial diseases.
For a better picture of how composting works, imagine that the microorganisms in your compost bin are like a pet that enjoys eating nutritious, organic waste. You wouldn’t feed this ‘pet’ chemical substances, plastic wrappers or salty, overly processed foods. It’s important to keep your compost healthy by maintaining the microorganisms in it healthy. And the best way to do this is by sticking to a ‘diet’ of clean, organic matter.
Step-by-Step Composting Guide
- Start by deciding if you’re going to be composting indoors or in your garden.
- Pick the right container for the job. If you’re composting outdoors, you can use a large wooden crate for open-air composting or even a specialized plastic composter that comes with a lid. For indoor composting, an 18-gallon container should be more than enough. Alternatively, you can also use vermicomposting, a method that relies on red wiggler and redworms to break down kitchen waste.
- Build your layers. Start with a layer of brown waste, add some green waste on top, then repeat. Remember to keep a 3:1 brown to green waste ratio. If you’re doing this outdoors in a composter without a bottom, your first layer should be made of bulky waste such as twigs, small branches or straw. This will provide drainage and aeration for your compost heap.
- Keep your compost moist but not soaked. If the mix feels dry to the touch, you can add a bit of water. If the mix is soggy or waterlogged, try adding brown waste such as shredded newspaper to absorb the excess moisture.
- Turn your compost at least once a week. As you add more scraps to the pile, you’ll want them to be incorporated in the mix rather than piling up at the top. Stirring the compost helps keep it aerated and speeds up the decomposing process.
- Keep the temperature steady. If the temperature drops below 90 F, your compost will simply turn into a smelly, rotten mess that takes forever to break down. Similarly, if the compost gets too hot, at over 140 F, this will kill the beneficial microbes. You can avoid your compost getting too hot or too cold by keeping it adequately moist, using a 3:1 brown to green waste ratio and turning it at least once a week.
- When the compost starts to smell earthy, has a dark brown color and a crumbly texture, you’ll know it’s ready to use.
How to Use Compost
Rich in organic matter and nutrients, compost is a veritable treat for your plants. You can sprinkle some on your lawn or vegetable garden in spring. For indoor plants, mix one-part compost to four-parts soil when repotting them, or add a one-inch layer on top of the already existing potting mix.
Courtesy: point2homes.comPosted by Teri-Lynn Jones on
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