Holler if you’re a baller.
Composting is the process of allowing your kitchen and yard waste to decompose, and then adding the resulting material to your garden, to supply nutrients and create a richer growing environment for your plants. It is one of the essentials to improving soil quality.
THE BENEFITS OF COMPOSTING
If you have a garden of any kind, having your own compost heap is a no-brainer. It will supply you with good fertilizer for your plants, so there will be no need to spend money on that. It’s also very good for the environment, since it reduces landfill waste and reduces the water and electricity needed for waste treatment. This article is an introduction to compost, how the stuff works and how to make it work for you.
The main nutrients supplied by compost are nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. These are essential for a healthy soil, and a consistent supply of compost material will supply these in abundance, and in an ideal ratio of the three. There are other nutrients supplied by compost, but these are the big ones.
Compost will also improve the water retention of the soil. This will help plants grow as water will be available whenever they need it.
GENERAL TIPS FOR COMPOSTING
Heat helps to break down your material quicker, so ideal compost container is a dark color that faces the sun.
The time of year also makes a big difference- material may take a few months to break down if added at the start of the summer, or most of the year if added at the end of it.
Your compost needs room for air to circulate, so incorporate layers (ie 2 inches of kitchen waste followed by 2 inches of crumpled newspaper).
It’s a good idea to have more than one compost container, as you can feel one up, let it sit and do its thing, and still have space for new material.
MATERIAL FOR COMPOSTING
First we need to differentiate between the types of compost material (as well as what you SHOULDN’T put in your compost). There are two categories of compost material: green and brown.
Green material is high in nitrogen, and includes grass clippings, manure, egg shells and vegetable scraps.
Brown materials are rich in carbon and phosphate, and include leaves, wood shavings, sawdust, and cardboard or any paper without colored ink.
What not to compost: meat (it will smell and attract scavengers), dairy products (the same), any part of a diseased plant (this can spread), Feces (can breed bacteria) and any paper with colored ink.
METHODS OF COMPOSTING
This is the easiest and most common form of composting, the method used in most backyard compost heaps. You need a container for your material (dark plastic containers work great). Start with a layer of browns (for example, leaves in the fall) then add a layer of greens. When the green layer gets about 2 inches high, add another 2 inch layer of browns. This should create a balanced fertilizer at the end of the process, which will take about a year.
Hot composting is a method that is a little more interactive. Start with a layer of brown, then add equal parts brown and green. Once you’ve done this, don’t add any more, and turn your mixture once every week. Various bacteria will build up and speed up the decomposition process, and your material should be ready in 2 to 3 months.
This method of composting uses worms to break down your material much quicker. Red wiggler worms are ideal if the majority of your material comes from kitchen waste. This method is great for composting small amounts if your space is limited.
Put a damp layer of brown material in your bin, to about 3/4 full. You then drop your red worms onto this layer, allowing them to wiggle in. Plan for 1lb of worms for every 1/2 lb of daily kitchen waste your produce. Add scraps every day, and bury them in the bedding. You’ll need some holes on the bottom for moisture to escape, and an area underneath to collect it.
When your compost is ready, move it to one side, and add a new layer of damp brown material. Over a few days your worms will naturally gravitate towards it, and you can remove your compost without losing your worms.
Good luck and stay prepared!