Regardless of whether you have always been green-fingered or you are a gardening novice, composting is something that you should start. There are many benefits to composting, and it is much easier than many people expect. Before you start composting, you should understand what it is and all the benefits. To get you started, the following is what you need to know about composting, and you can learn how to compost using these simple steps.
What is Composting and How Does It Work?
Compost is defined as decaying organic substances, manure, or dead leaves that are used to fertilize the soil. The practice of creating this substance is referred to as composting. This process involves oxygen and microorganisms breaking down organic waste material. The result is a substance that you can safely apply to the environment as a natural fertilizer for farming or general gardening.
What Are the Benefits of Composting?
There are many benefits to composting for both your garden and the environment. Some of these include:
- Composting reduces the amount of organic waste in landfills across the globe.
- It reduces methane emissions, as organic waste that ends up in landfills eventually begins to emit methane, and this is a potent greenhouse gas.
- Compost aids carbon sequestration.
- Another benefit of compost is that it captures volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are harmful compounds in the air.
- You have a rich fertilizer to use in your garden that is superior to many of the chemical options on the market.
- You will save money on buying compost.
What is Compostable?
The number of things you can compost surprises many people. While grass, shrub cuttings, and fruit or vegetable peelings re the obvious compostable materials that most people know, you can compost a wide range of kitchen and garden waste. You can also compost food waste items including pasta, rice, cereal, and bread. Some of the more surprising compostable items include eggshells, tea bags, pet hair, human hair from your brush, matches, newspapers, cut flowers, and even coffee grounds with their paper filter.
Are There Foods That You Should Not Compost?
While there are plenty of food items that you can add to your compost heap, there are also lots of foods that you should not use for composting. For example, you should not compost anything containing animal products. According to My Barc, this includes meat, animal fat, butter, and other dairy products.
When Can You Compost?
You can compost at any time of the year if you have waste materials from your garden or home that are suitable for composting. However, the Royal Horticultural Society recommends late summer to early winter as the best time of year for composting.
How to Compost
Composting is far easier than many people expect. Good Housekeeping recommends the following simple steps to begin composting in your garden.
- Choose a space in your garden for a compost bin. You will need at least three-square feet.
- Buy a compost bin or reuse an unused bin from your home. A closed bin is better as this will prevent the compost bin from releasing a strong odor.
- Alternatively, create your own compost area from wood to create a box or tub that is approximately three feet in diameter.
- If you are concerned that wild animals will get into your compost bin, then surround it with chicken wire.
- Add equal amounts of brown waste and green waste to your compost bin. Brown waste is dry products, such as old newspapers, wood shavings, or dry leaves. Green waste is wet materials, such as grass cuttings and vegetable peelings.
- Try to maintain this balance of green and brown waste as you continue to use your compost bin. The green waste gives the compost nitrogen, which is needed for building the cell structure of your compost. Brown waste contains carbon that feeds the organisms that break down the green waste.
- Compost also needs both oxygen and water. Leave the lid off your compost bin occasionally to make sure there is enough air getting to the compost or drill some holes through the upper part of the bin to allow air to circulate. When you open your bin, sprinkle the compost with water to keep things moist.
- If you get the balance of materials right and make sure your compost bin gets water and oxygen, then it will not have a bad odor and will simply smell like damp earth.
- It will take a few weeks for your compostable materials to turn into organic fertilizer.
- Every week, turn over the contents of the compost bin using a garden fork as this will mix up the contents and help them to break down.
- If you do not have compost after a few weeks, add some extra green waste to the bin. It can also help to break up any larger pieces of brown waste.
- On the other hand, if the compost is very wet and beginning to smell, you should add more brown waste to the mix.
- If your compost looks and smells like soil, then it is ready to use.
How Can You Use Compost?
Once you have made your compost, there are several ways that you can use it. Some of these include:
- It is a good, natural replacement for chemical fertilizers.
- Compost will promote the healthy growth of your lawn. Sprinkle your lawn with compost several times a year.
- It is ideal for both vegetable gardens and flower beds, as it helps both vegetables and flowers to grow.
- When you are transplanting shrubs or trees, use compost as a top dressing.
How to Compost – The Final Verdict
Composting is a fantastic way to create organic fertilizer for your garden, and it benefits the environment in many ways. It is far easier than you may think to start composting, as all you need is a compost bin. Once you have your bin, you can fill it with garden and kitchen waste, although you should avoid animal products. Getting the balance between green and brown waste right is important to successful composting, and to keep the odor of the compost to a minimum. It is also important to add some water and to allow oxygen to get to your compost regularly. Using the steps outlined, you should have compost within a few weeks.