Making Compost contributes to the cycle of life and turns your food scraps and yard waste into super soil that will feed your plants continuously and improve your soil structure.
Most people avoid composting at home because they think it’s too complicated, it smells terrible, or it’s a big mess. This may actually be accurate if you go about composting the wrong way, but composting correctly is actually quite easy. Just layer a small amount of soil, organic waste, and a sprinkle of water, and wait for your brew to turn into compost (the easiest super soil booster). After your pile has decomposed sufficiently you just add some to your garden to improve your flowers, top dress your lawn, feed your homegrown veggies, and more. Once you get your compost pile going, you’ll find that it’s a convenient way to get rid of kitchen scraps and other organic scraps around the yard such as leaves.
Types of Composting
Before you get carried away and start throwing everything organic in the pile, recognize that there are two types of composting: cold and hot. Cold composting is collecting all your non-meat organic waste and then corralling them in a pile or bin. Once your pile is made, wait a year or so and the material will decompose.
Hot composting requires you to do a little more work and help the process along a little. Using hot composting is much faster, having the usable product in as little as 3 months. Four ingredients are required for making hot compost quickly: Air, nitrogen, carbon, and water. Combined these critical ingredients are what feed microorganisms, speeding up the process of decomposition. Using the hot compost method you can accomplish two batches per year, one in the fall and one in the spring when garden waste is plentiful.
Vermicompost is another popular type of composting, made with the help of worms. When your worms eat the organic scaps, they release castings(worm poop), which are very high in nitrogen. You can’t use any type of worms that you may find under a rock, look for redworms (also called “red wigglers”). Red wigglers, the worms typically used in composting are available online or at a garden supplier pretty cheap.
What to Compost
Composting is a great way to get rid of kitchen scraps, expired food items, garden waste and it also helps reduce landfill waste. Collect the materials listed below to start off your compost pile the right way:
- Fruit scraps
- Vegetable scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Grass and plant clippings
- Dry leaves
- Finely chopped wood and bark chips
- Shredded newspaper
- Sawdust from untreated wood
Keeping a small container in your house is an easy way to collect your composting materials as you prepare meals. If you don’t want to purchase one, you can just use an old bucket as a temporary carry tool for transporting your kitchen scraps to your compost pile. If you don’t have a lot of organic scraps, you can use a small bucket with a lid and freeze them to prevent decay in the house. Once you have enough ready just add them to your outdoor compost pile.
Steps to Make Hot Compost
Step 1: Combine Brown and Green Materials
To make your own hot-compost pile, collect enough organic scraps to make a pile at least 3 feet deep. Combine your kitchen scraps and other green items with your dried brown items such as cardboard, leaves or dried grass. “Green” items include vegetable scraps and coffee grounds, animal droppings (not from your pet spot though), and fresh tree and lawn trimmings, which contribute nitrogen. For achieving the best results, start by mixing three parts brown with one part green materials. If your compost heap looks too wet and stinks, add more dry items or turn your pile more often. If you see it looks and dry and very brown, add some more green items and water to make it slightly moist.
Step 2: Water Your Pile
Add a little water over the pile occasionally so it has the consistency of a damp sponge. Don’t overwater, otherwise, the living organisms that break down the waste will become waterlogged and drown. If this occurs, your compost pile will be a rotting pile instead. You can easily monitor this by checking the temperature of your compost pile with a compost thermometer (Easily available online). This will ensure the materials are properly decomposing. There is even a cheaper way of doing this, just reach into the middle of the pile with your hand. Your compost pile should feel much warmer than the temperature of the surrounding soil.
Step 3: Stir Up Your Pile
You need to add oxygen to the pile from time to time, turning the pile once a week should be sufficient. Actually, the best time to stir the pile is when the center of the compost heap feels warm or when it reaches 130 and 150°F. Stirring the pile will redistribute the microorganisms which in turn will help it cook faster. This stirring also prevents the pile from becoming matted down and developing an odour.
Composting Tip: In addition to turning the pile on a regular schedule, cut and shred larger pieces into smaller sizes to speed up the composting process.
Step 4: Feed Your Garden
When you can’t feel the heat coming off the pile any longer that is a good indicator that the pile is fully cooked and ready to use in the garden. Add about 4 inches of your black gold to your garden beds and into your planters at the beginning of each growing season.
Some farmers utilize part of their compost pile to make what’s known as compost tea. They take some of the fully formed compost to “steep” in water like a tea bag for several days. This water saturated with nutrients and beneficial organisms is strained off to use as a homemade liquid fertilizer.
Every household is different, so it’s up to you to decide which composting method best fits your home. No matter which method you choose, you will be helping the environment and you no longer have to buy fertilizer.