Composting at Home: A Beginner’s Guide
Composting at home. Day after day, you throw away large amounts of yard waste and food scraps, not thinking much of it. Yet, this organic matter can still serve an actual purpose — namely, you can use it as compost. That way, you will naturally enrich the soil in your garden and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. And as you can imagine, that’s so much healthier both for you and the environment.
What Exactly Is Compost?
To put it simply, compost is a soil conditioner and a fertilizer. It’s made of wet organic matter, otherwise known as green waste, that breaks down over time and becomes humus. Typically, it takes several months for compost to be ready to use. However, in some cases, the process may even last up to two years.
Compost has one primary purpose — to supply the soil with nutrients. Aside from that, though, it works as a natural pesticide and moisturizer, ensuring that the soil stays healthy.
But its main benefit lies in the fact that compost is entirely eco-friendly. It’s not only an all-natural soil conditioner, but it also decreases methane emissions from landfills. And less methane means less CO2, the main greenhouse gas contributing to global warming.
How to Start Composting at Home
The good news is that you don’t need special equipment to get started. In fact, anyone can do it, as long as they have organic waste. And luckily, that’s something we never have a shortage of.
Still, if you’re new to composting and an eco-friendly lifestyle, you may not know where to start. After all, it’s not something you learn at school! But don’t worry — we’re here to give you a few tips on how to begin composting successfully.
1. Prepare a Bin
Before you start, you need a place to store all the organic waste that you’ll collect. Typically, you’ll use a bin for that — there are many great ones to buy specifically for this purpose. However, you can also make your own container from wooden pallets, storage tubs, or wine barrels.
Keep in mind that your compost can be a slight fire hazard. The natural processes occurring in it can create lots of heat, especially during warmer months of the year. Thus, make sure to keep the compost bin away from sheds and wooden fences.
2. Combine Brown and Green Waste
All waste that you’ll be using will be organic, but it won’t all come from the same pile. For good compost, you need to combine green waste with brown in equal measure.
In other words, you should mix fruit and vegetable peelings, grass clippings, and tea leaves with dry, dead plants, weeds, and hay. The reason for that is simple — green waste provides nitrogen, while brown has lots of carbon.
Before you place any waste into the compost bin, put some woody refuse on the bottom. Then, you can start layering brown and green matter on top. Keep adding waste until you fill the bin.
3. Add Other Kinds of Natural Waste
Green and brown waste is essential for your compost pile, but you can sprinkle in some other types too. For instance, add some eggshells, toilet paper rolls, cotton clothes, or even compostable bags. But remember to practice moderation with these types of waste. After all, it shouldn’t make up the bulk of your compost.
Also, don’t put in any cooked food, meat, and fish. This sort of waste attracts vermin and may cause odor problems.
4. Keep the Pile Wet
Moisture is a necessary part of the decomposition process, so you should make sure that your compost is always damp. Some of the water will come from the organic matter itself — namely, the green waste. But if your compost is too dry, make sure to add some moisture occasionally.
Don’t go overboard, though — the pile should be damp, not soaking. Sometimes, it’s enough to put a lid on the bin to keep the moisture inside. Once in a while, you could turn the pile with a pitchfork to ensure an even distribution of water.
5. Let Air Flow Through
Your compost bin shouldn’t be completely sealed — air should be able to enter freely and flow through the pile. Much like with moisture, you need to turn the waste once in a while to ensure all parts get enough air. If your pile is looking a little slimy, it probably lacks it.
6. Fertilize Your Garden
Once your compost is ready, it will turn dark and rich in color. Then, it’s finally time to begin feeding the soil with it. If you have a simple garden with a lawn, it’s enough to cover the grass with a one to three-inch layer of compost. As time goes by, the rain will push the fertilizer into the ground and feed your lawn.
If you want to fertilize flowers or shrubs, the process is slightly different. Steep compost in water and let it stay there for a few days. The resulting liquid, called compost tea, is a perfect source of nutrients for your plants.
Say goodbye to chemicals that help your garden look beautiful, but ruin the environment and your health in the process. Instead, start making and using your own compost — an eco-friendly fertilizer made of organic waste.
As you can see, compost is quite easy to make — so much so, in fact, that you can start even today. The process itself may take a while, but the result will be well worth the wait!