Composting basics to help your feet off the ground. Our planet has benefited from composting for quite a while now. It’s been more than a century since the idea was conceptualized and since then it has yielded various positive effects on our environment and to people’s lives.
Now, more than ever is the time to get into the composting wave. Our world needs it, everyone needs it and there are countless ways to go about it. We’re glad that you decided to join the green earth movement and excited to share with you some composting basics. Welcome to composting and let the fun begin!
So What Is Composting For?
Through the composting process, decaying organic material waste is broken down by certain microorganisms with the help of oxygen and that it reaches a point where it can be stored and handled safely, and in turn applied to our environment. So in a nutshell compositing is a way to produce natural fertilizers that you can safely and efficiently use for your gardening and farming.
It’s so beneficial and turns waste into something useful. See how it’s great for the environment? Let’s learn more about it.
What Is Composting?
Let’s define composting first, as per Google a compost is decayed material that is organic and in turn used as fertilizer. So, composting would then mean as the act on making an organic matter such as manure or vegetable into a compost. Compost comes from Old French.
Let’s talk history as part of our composting 101.
First of all, there’s been evidence that the Romans and the Greeks were long utilizing the composting process. There are numerous references to it in the Bible for example.
But the person attributed to it as its primary proponent is Sir Albert Howard. Composting was then already used as the basis for farming and organic gardening. Sir Albert Howard devised the Indore Method between the years 1905 to 1934.
In 1924 the principals of biodynamic agriculture were outlined by Rudolph Steiner. This made composting a central practice. Steiner was the one who posited the idea of gardening with nature and included the phases of the moon.
In 1942 J.I. Rodale pioneered the organic method in America. He made use of the ideas of Sir Albert Howard.
Composting Basics Beginners
Now that you’ve brushed up with some composting basics then now it’s time to discuss how you can go about it. What to do first, where to go, what to prepare, and how to master the entire composting process.
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How Does Composting Work?
The composting process starts as you gather your organic wastes and put them on a compost bin. A recommended location should be sunny and in a flat, well-drained bin because this way your pile will remain moist and warm.
For best results, you can layer twigs which is good for drainage and aeration with some leaves, fruits, and vegetable scraps while mixing your compost once per week as this will help break down the materials.
You can layer browns i.e. straw, dead leaves, paper bags with the greens like veggies, garden waste, fruit, and eggshells. It will take about 4 to 6 months for full decomposition to happen. Signs that the compost is then ready when it turns dark brown, will have a crumbly texture, and will now smell like soil.
What can be Composted?
Get your compost bins ready as almost anything can be composted. We weren’t kidding when we said that this is one efficient way to regulate waste. Apple cores, banana peel, carrot peels, eggshells, avocado pits, pumpkin leftovers, or any fruits and vegetable scraps can be composted.
Even cereal, stale bread, and pasta can be thrown into your backyard compost bin.
Some additional compostable materials are coffee grounds and its filters, herbs, tea leaves, spices, and nuts should all be acceptable ingredients. Even plant trimmings or cut flowers can be included but not the diseased ones.
As with this long list of stuff that you can throw in your DIY compost bin, there’s also some that you can’t, like most animal products. Meat, fish, yogurt, butter, cheese, animal fat, or milk are the ones that are allowed.
Please keep anything greasy or oily out of the pile, and also, don’t put in your pet’s wastes. You don’t want to introduce any diseases into your pile.
So How Do You Compost?
Here we are going to discuss a few styles and types of composting. This section will discuss composting methods.
- There’s no good reason not to start composting as anyone can do it anywhere. Yard trimmings and kitchen scraps can all go to your composting bin.
- It’s advisable to build your compost bin near the garden. But also not that far from your kitchen. Pile up the materials, add some water, and make sure to mix or turn it regularly.
- Consider a compost tumbler if you have a smaller area. You can buy one from a store or you can make a DIY compost bin tumbler. (Note: You can also make a DIY leaf compost bin)
- For urban dwellers, you can start or go for a community composting program.
Compost should be a balance between carbon and nitrogen. That’s why fresh and green materials such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps are recommended as they provide nitrogen. On the other hand, twigs, dead leaves, and paper are some brown materials that will provide carbon.
The perfect ratio for these materials should 2:1, and that’s carbon to nitrogen. Too much nitrogen will cause your compost pile to smell more like rotting garbage. Adding more carbon should balance it all out then. Again, do not add any dairy, feces of your pets, and meat.
Your composting basics lesson won’t be complete without discussing water and aeration.
Water and Aeration are key components of a desirable compost pile. If you keep your pile moist then this will enable the microorganisms to stay active. In turn, they will break down the brown and the green ingredients efficiently.
Do be careful as too much water can make your compost smell unpleasant. Turning and aerating your wet pile will dry it out. This process also adds needed oxygen, which will facilitate the composting process, as it mixes in the nitrogen and the carbon for a better breakdown.
Some experts debate on the heat necessary for a compost pile. Decomposition can cause the heat that will burn up weed seeds and then speed up the whole process. It’s generally agreed upon that a 140º temperature should accomplish that.
A pile that’s hotter than that can kill off any beneficial organisms helping with the process. Again, if the pile gets too hot, aerate it. Enjoying your composting basics so far? We are too, a lot!
Where Can I Get Compost?
Looking for a good place to learn or gather stuff from to start your composting practice? Worried that you may not have a place to compost but want to support the cause? Don’t worry here are some suggestions.
There are garden centers, home improvement stores, and even nurseries that you may go to for your composting needs. Also, take note that a lot of farmers sell compost. Some websites support composting, DIY, or otherwise, that can cater to your needs. A little bit of research will prove useful.
A lot of take-out containers are also compostable. There are a lot of establishments that provide eco-friendly take-out containers and you can surely use them.
Environmental Benefits of Composting
The last part of our composting basics article is of course the benefits our ecosystem reaps from it.
When food wastes go to landfills they emit methane. A nasty greenhouse gas that contributes big time to the dreaded climate change. Composting should then be a way to minimize these methane emissions.
Also, since compost is utilized as fertilizer then it lessens the need for any chemical options. These chemicals can be harmful to the earth.
Carbon sequestration is also one aspect composting helps. Once applied to the soil, your compost can potentially function as what you call a carbon sink. Carbon sink traps and contains the element in the dirt.
Once carbon is in the ground, it won’t come up in our atmosphere. Thus, carbon won’t be a problem anymore for our planet. There is so much that this process offers and discovering them can also have a lot of benefits for you as an individual.
Composting is more than just gardening, more than just farming, it’s a way to make us and our ecosystem healthier and to recover from the beating it is taking from manmade pollution. It helps a lot, that’s the bottom line of it.
So if there’s a way for us to give back to Mother Nature then why not grab the opportunity right? It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s good for the body. We’re glad you’re here because we know that you’ve already hopped on the composting bandwagon. Hoped you found our composting basics article informative and helpful.
Welcome, and have a great day ahead!