Composting is a natural process in which microorganisms break down organic materials like leaves, grass clippings and kitchen scraps into food-grade compost that feeds both soil fertility and keeps waste out of landfills.
Composting relies heavily on moisture. Aim for a moist pile like a wet sponge as more moisture allows microorganisms to work faster.
Under this system, organic materials are stacked together in piles or heaps and turned with a pitchfork at regular intervals to aerate and balance out carbon and nitrogen content of the compost pile. “Greens” such as food scraps and coffee grounds can be alternated with dry “browns” such as leaves, straw, twigs and sawdust to help create the ideal conditions for balanced composting piles.
Turning the pile helps aerate its contents, moving material from outer edges closer to the core where decomposition begins, as well as helping prevent unpleasant odors. Turning is particularly effective during hotter weather; in colder environments aeration combined with hot-compost accelerators such as comfrey leaves or chicken manure may work better in speeding decomposition faster and producing rich, dark compost that has an earthy scent; though typically completion takes around one year; typically not ready until subsequent year!
There’s something delightfully satisfying in witnessing food scraps, and yard waste turn into beautiful gardening soil, not to mention being great for the environment – by reducing landfill trash and eliminating chemical fertilizers altogether.
Backyard compost bins and piles can be constructed out of various materials, including wood pallets, chicken wire, cinder blocks, and drums. Welded wire bins are the most cost-effective choice and usually found at most home and garden stores.
Layering brown and green materials is key to successful backyard composting. Protein-rich foods and fats should be avoided as these may attract flies and odors; animal manures and any materials treated with herbicides or pesticides should also be excluded from your mix.
Microorganisms in compost require air and moisture for growth, so turning or aerating it regularly is critical – particularly during cooler weather when breakdown becomes slower.
Vermicompost is a dark crumbly compost produced by decomposing food scraps with the aid of redworms (Eisenia fetida). When mixed into garden soil it helps improve texture while providing essential nutrients to plants.
Vermicompost differs from hot compost in that it doesn’t need to be cured and can be directly applied in your garden, although using vermicompost in containers for houseplants or seedlings grown indoors could introduce plant pathogens that kill their growth.
Worms produce an organic fertilizer known as vermicastings which is an ideal soil enhancer but should not replace good garden composting methods. Furthermore, this method takes up less space than traditional bin composting can and can even be done during colder weather without producing an unpleasant odorous scent.
Bokashi composting is an innovative composting technique based on fermentation that can handle multiple types of food waste more effectively than traditional methods. Furthermore, this requires much less space than standard compost piles and can even be accomplished in an apartment!
The bokashi system utilizes a bucket filled with an inoculant that typically consists of bran or molasses mixed with effective microorganisms (EM), to combat pathogens, improve soil health and fertility, and boost crop yields. The combination of effective microbes can eliminate harmful pathogens while improving crop yields.
Food scraps and organic material are combined with inoculants before being compressed flat to eliminate air pockets, then buried in the garden to be broken down by microbes. Some people add this fermented material directly to their vermicomposting worm bins without issue while others keep it separate – this method works especially well for people unable or unwilling to keep one on hand.
This simple method involves digging a trench or hole in your garden bed and burying organic waste, including compost materials that over time break down to provide nutrients to nearby plants and soil.
This easy technique is ideal for communities that prohibit bin or pile composting and those with limited space to spare. Since organic waste can be buried directly, there’s no need to transport it anywhere, keeping temperatures warmer during cool weather periods while staying moist during droughty spells.
Mix together green materials (fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings) with brown (shredded newspaper, hay, or dried leaves), allowing anaerobic decomposition to take place. Meat leftovers should be avoided due to possible harmful bacteria that could harm plants; also, wait an adequate period before planting food crops near any buried materials.
Sheet Mulching (Lasagna Composting)
Sheet mulching (sometimes known as lasagna gardening) is a method of composting that does not involve tilling and does not use chemicals to achieve compost. Instead, cardboard sheets are used to cover existing weeds, grasses, and sod in order to prevent future growth.
Soak and spread 4 to 6 sheets of corrugated cardboard over grass or weeds for this first layer. After this has set in, apply an already decomposed layer of compost from either your local extension office or tree service.
Next, layer 2 inches of “brown” materials such as leaves, twigs, and branches; kitchen scraps (but no meat bones dairy); wood chips; compost or cardboard layers should also be well watered to speed up decomposition – continue alternating layers of browns and greens until you have created your garden bed!
Compost Tea Pit or Post-Hole
Compost tea is a liquid extract of the microbes and nutrients found in finished compost, created by steeping it in clean water (preferably through screening or sifting to filter out debris such as fruit pits). You can then use this tea as either soil drench or foliar spray.
Organic waste that can be composted outdoors can also be turned into compost tea, but meat scraps and dairy products should be left out due to potential pathogens that don’t get destroyed during composting. Furthermore, indoor bins tend to have smaller spaces; items that decompose slowly like onions may take too long and you should screen or sift your tea to remove large particles that might clog sprayers or hoses.
Compost tumblers are drum-like containers that rotate to mix and aerate organic waste, speeding up decomposition by creating heat inside.
Compost tumblers can be designed with insulation to assist with composting even during freezing winter temperatures and retain any heat created during decomposition processes. Insulation also helps retain any residual heat generated during this process.
Important to keep in mind is that even insulated tumblers must still be turned at regular intervals to facilitate decomposition. Either with a pitchfork or manually spinning the container, turning helps mix hot compost materials with newly added green waste while stimulating decomposition bacteria that is essential for decomposition, as well as keeping moisture levels consistent for decomposition – crucial steps that help ensure no unpleasant odors form or dry out and lose nitrogen over time.
Double Bin System
Composting can be an efficient and environmentally-friendly way to recycle kitchen scraps and yard trim while simultaneously decreasing landfill volumes and trash incinerator emissions. Plus, composting also helps cut back on greenhouse gases produced when burning garbage.
To make compost, simply pile together an array of “brown” (dry) and “green” (nitrogen) organic materials into an over three foot square pile and mix it regularly – keeping the pile moist like a damp sponge.
DIY options for managing organic material include using a heavy-duty garbage can with 1.5 cm aeration holes drilled in it. If raccoons are an issue, adding a hinged lid may deter them. Or three-bin turning units allow you to shift organic materials between bins at various stages of breakdown; you could end up having finished compost in one bin, midway product in another and raw mixture in yet a third one – perfect!
The Green Cone digests food waste quickly. Its double walls trap heat from the Sun and direct it down into its digestion basket below, acting like an aerobic (with oxygen) process to minimize potential odors.
A healthy Green Cone can digest 5 kg or 11 lbs per week of food scraps without animal interference. Its double walls and an insulating layer of soil shield its digestion basket from animal intrusion.
No stirring or aeration are needed – simply remove some residue from the bottom of your digestion basket every couple of years and dispose of it. Add a small dose of accelerator powder during winter to further speed up decomposition, and it could reduce household waste by 25%!