Our modern society depends on the use of many different resources, and with each one we tend to get quite attached. For example, when you start composting your waste there is a certain amount of pride in seeing the end result of what’s created by decaying organic materials.
In order to compost, you need a bin and some good soil. You also need to know what kind of materials you can compost and the best time of year to do it. There are lots of ways to make your own compost. Read more in detail here: how to make compost step by step with pictures.
I used to believe that composting was just for dedicated gardeners or “zero waste” types that put a lot of effort into lowering their carbon footprint. Composting, it turns out, doesn’t have to be a major, zealous commitment; you can take it slowly, explore, and see whether it’s something that works for your life and property, and the advantages are applicable to individuals and homes of all kinds.
It’s also a technique that may be done on any budget. While you may purchase a big compost bin for a few hundred dollars online or at your local gardening shop (with “fancy” vented and easy-turning ones costing up to $500! ), you can easily make your own for less than ten dollars.
If you’ve been thinking about starting composting, today I’ll go over everything you need to know, from how to make a composting bin in under 10 minutes to how to keep track of all the garbage you put in it.
What Are Some of the Advantages of Composting?
I pondered this issue for a long time before diving in and discovering the solution. Here’s what I learned through my studies and personal experience:
It benefits the environment by lowering the amount of garbage sent to landfills. Organic waste accounts for between 14 and 12 percent of total home garbage, according to estimates. Although not all of it can be composted (see the lists below), the majority of it can. You may limit the amount of rubbish you send to landfills by reducing your personal waste. This accomplishes two goals: 1) lowers the rate at which landfills fill up, and 2) minimizes the amount of hazardous methane gas released into the atmosphere by landfills (which happens when waste is compacted and has no oxygen, changing its byproduct from CO2 to harmful methane).
It produces nutritious soil and fertilizer. Composting has a slew of scientific horticulture advantages. In a nutshell, composting may help you establish a healthy growth environment by amending your gardening and planting soil, particularly if you live somewhere with poor soil (like here in the Denver area). Soil and fertilizer are expensive; use your own garbage instead!
It’s surprisingly enjoyable! Observing the healthy destruction of your own food waste is like watching a real-life Magic School Bus episode. It makes you think about nature’s life cycle – “into dust thou shall return” and such. Plus, the youngsters find it entertaining, and it instills in them a sense of responsibility for Planet Earth.
Composting comes in a variety of forms.
Composting in an Aerobic Environment. This is exactly what I’m going to show you in this essay. You can make a backyard compost pile with a huge container or an aerated pile in another building that takes some upkeep and has certain restrictions on what you can throw in. It’s aerobic because it uses oxygen to maintain a healthy, odor-free pile that produces a nutrient-rich final result.
Vermicomposting. Worms are used in this sort of composting, and it may be done either inside or outdoors in a more controlled setting. Although worms will naturally enhance your soil to a greater degree and give some extra aeration via their feeding and tunnel-digging, they will need some upkeep and the amount will be smaller than a regular backyard pile.
Pickup at your home. Composting services that visit your house once or twice a month to collect the contents of a big container — similar to your trash or recycling bin — are becoming more popular. They collect your organic trash and leftovers, compost it in bulk, and then sell the soil and fertilizer to garden stores or the general public. It is expensive — $30 a month seems to be the norm — but there are no limits on meat or dairy, allowing you to recycle even more of your waste.
Using a Backyard Bin to Compost
If you prefer to use aerobic composting, you may get started by simply accumulating garbage in your garden.
Composting in a bin, on the other hand, is the simplest approach to get started for many reasons:
For starters, it has a neater, more orderly appearance than a large mound of dirt and culinary trash in a corner of your yard. An open compost pile may not even be permitted in certain neighborhoods. While you can create a bigger protective covering for an open pile, it will take a little more time and effort. To discover whether it’s for you, start small and tidy. While many people eventually get bigger, this is not the case for everyone.
A covered bin, on the other hand, keeps the odor at away. While professional composters always insist that a healthy pile should smell fresher than rotten, the truth is that decomposing food scraps still stink, even when they’re doing what nature intended. If you have a big property and your neighbors aren’t too near, maintain an open pile if you don’t mind your neighbors seeing it. However, in many neighborhoods, the lid protects you and your neighbors from odors.
Third, the container prevents bigger animals from entering your compost pile. You’ll need some “scavengers,” such as bugs and bacteria, to break down food leftovers and other garbage. Squirrels, raccoons, and other larger animals, on the other hand, will simply be a nuisance. There are various methods to prevent this if you proceed with a larger composting system, but for now, the covered bin is your best choice.
Compost Bin Construction
To make a compost bin, all you’ll need is a big plastic bin with a cover, a drill, and some beginning material.
Choose a dark or neutral-colored bin so it doesn’t stick out too much in your yard. The larger the better; mine is 1.5′ x 2′ and is 2′ deep.
Once you’ve obtained your bin, make 10-15 holes in the bottom and lid using a drill (or a knife); this will allow for drainage and air movement, which are critical for a healthy compost pile.
That’s all there is to it. After that, you’ll fill your aerated bin with beginning material, which I’ll discuss later.
Getting Your Compost Pile Started
It’s not quite as simple as dumping in your food waste to get your compost going, but it’s close. The right combination of “brown materials” and “green materials” is found in a healthy compost pile. These words might be perplexing since the color of the products isn’t exactly the point. Fresh vs. dry, or nitrogen-rich vs. carbon-rich, is more important than green vs. brown.
Food leftovers, fresh yard clippings, soil (which is called “green” despite its hue), and other nitrogen-rich materials make up the majority of green matter. Brown matter is defined as anything that has been dried and stripped of its nutrients, such as sticks, dry leaves and yard clippings, paper materials, and even ashes.
The green and brown components balance each other out, resulting in a pile that breaks down quickly into nutritious soil. It takes a long time for a pile of brown materials — dried yard clippings, wood, paper, etc. — to decompose. It merely sits there without the organic stuff. A collection of purely green organic stuff, on the other hand, may quickly devolve into a stinky, slimy, and useless mush. To reach to that sweet spot of breaking down into useful soil in 2-6 weeks, the greens need the balance of the dry material. (It’s worth noting that green stuff, particularly yard trash, dries up and ultimately degrades into brown material before degrading further.)
To begin, use 2 or 3 parts brown waste to 1 part green material in your compost container.
At the bottom of my bin, I added approximately 6 inches of dried leaves and small twigs.
Then I added a tiny mound of kitchen waste (including corn cobs, which are technically “brown” stuff) and a few inches of nitrogen-rich soil.
You may purchase compost “starter” that contains beneficial bacteria to help your pile get started.
What You Can Put in Your Compost Pile and What You Can’t
It’s mostly a question of what’s organic, biodegradable, and natural that you can dump into your composting bin; garbage that easily breaks down and that you wouldn’t mind turning into soil to produce food that you’d feel good about eating.
Use an enclosed, odor-dampening jar that you can carry out to the pile once or twice a day or two instead of an open mound of waste on your kitchen counter.
What to Include
- scraps of vegetables (hard peels and skins take longer to disintegrate)
- cores and crumbs of fruit (ditto)
- items made from grains
- grinds of coffee
- shells of eggs
- Tea bags/leaves (staples, however, will not break down)
- napkins; paper towels; cut/shredded black and white newspaper; cut-up, non-waxed brown cardboard)
- weeds were cut/pulled
- trimmings from the garden
- cuttings of grass
- twigs/sticks of various sizes
- wood chips and sawdust
- ash (unless if it’s natural ash from charcoal)
Kitchen leftovers make up a large portion of our compost pile. We go through a lot of produce (resulting in a lot of scraps) and have small children who don’t always complete their meals.
Weeds, grass, leaves, branches, and other items from around the yard make up the other significant category of what we contribute. Because there isn’t enough space in the compost, not all of our landscaping clippings wind up there. How much of the material you may chuck in depends on the size of your personal pile.
What Not to Include
- Meat, fish, and bones (fine in certain situations, but they may rapidly become rancid and attract huge creatures you don’t want roaming about your yard)
- dairy products — milk, cream, cheese, etc. (the concern here is that these animal products will attract larger vermin — you can compost dairy, but it shouldn’t be a large percentage of your pile, and it should be mixed in with brown material each time to help mitigate odor; with a small-ish starter pile, it might be better to just avoid this category of kitchen waste)
- feces/litter from pets
- garden/grass clippings that have been treated with chemicals
- paper/cardboard with a glossy or waxed finish
- Plastic, metal, and glass are examples of non-biodegradable materials.
Taking Care of Your Compost Pile
There are a few things to do and keep an eye on with your compost pile to make sure it’s doing its job — particularly if you want useful soil/fertilizer from it. The following are the two most important tasks for keeping the pile going:
Turning. It’s simple for your compost container to become into a lasagna of various materials layered on top of each other – leaves, kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, more food scraps, and so on. To degrade effectively, all of that things has to operate together. That’s why you’ll want to give your compost a good stir, or “turn,” every a week or so (err on the side of more than less). Any forked garden tool will do; the important thing to remember is that you want to aerate and mix the materials rather than crush them.
Wetting. Many compost mounds, as amusing as it may seem at first, need watering! Those microorganisms require water to live and accomplish their jobs, and depending on your climate (we’re on the boundary of semi-arid and desert in the Denver region) and what’s going into the bin, you may need to modify the moisture level by changing the material ratios and/or adding water directly.
When you flip the pile, if it seems crispy and dry, add a small bucket of water (12-1 gallon) and some additional green materials. Add additional brown stuff if it’s too wet (the pile is growing slimy and unpleasant), and if your bin is receiving too much rain, consider putting it under cover.
You don’t need to worry about precise proportions here; instead, focus on what you see and smell. Adjust the settings and wait a few days to see what occurs. You want your compost to have the consistency of wet, fertile soil in the end.
It may seem picky in my description, but it isn’t. With my initial material and frequent additions of food wastes and weeds/leaves/grass clippings, our home compost pile fared just well. I’ve only watered it once in a few weeks, but as summer progresses and the rain stops pouring, it’ll definitely need it more.
That’s all there is to it! You may contribute to both your personal garden and the environment by doing little care. Now is the time to go out there and start composting!
The “composting methods” is a process that will help to dispose of garden waste and other organic materials. The composting process can be done in a number of ways, but it typically involves mixing the materials with water and letting them decompose for several weeks or months.
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