Composting can turn up to 30% of household waste into more beneficial disposal means. You can divert most of the natural wastes found around your home into compost for a growing vegetable garden. Help your crops, wallet, and planet using these simple tips for more effective and successful composting.
Mix Equal Parts Brown and Green
Find the right balance between the amount of brown and green materials in your compost to create a mixture that decomposes better and heats up quicker. Brown materials, including paper products, dryer lint, and corn cobs, are carbon-rich, while green materials such as coffee grounds, fruits, and vegetables are nitrogen-rich.
You can split compostable materials into two lists:
NITROGEN/GREEN = WET/SAPPY
- Rotted manure
- Food scraps
- Grass clippings’ sappy’/’green’ waste
CARBON/BROWN = DRY/WOODY
- Wood chips
- Woody twigs
- Straw ‘dryer’/’brown’ waste
For you to get easy-care compost, it’s best to have around two parts nitrogen and one part carbon as they complement one another. Carbon traps air physically, and not chemically.
Composting is pretty easy to do but also easy to get wrong. All you need is the right ingredients with a bit of knowledge. There are many ways to compost, some are a success, and others aren’t. If you’re satisfied with your method, then you don’t need to change it. However, some basic principles can help ensure your success.
The right ingredients for compost include the following:
- Food scraps (fruit and vegetable)
- Grass clippings
- Dead Plants
- Twigs/chopped wood
- Tea/coffee grounds
- Hair, newspaper, dust waste
- Herbivorous pet waste (from small animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, etc.)
Quench Its Thirst
Your compost requires moisture to remain healthy like any other living organism. Constantly water the mixture to ensure that the composting process stays active, but be careful not to overwater. It’s equally as harmful to your compost to grow soggy as it is for it to dry out.
Avoid Harmful Agents
Materials like fish scraps, meat, and bones attract pests that hinder crop development and should never be incorporated into compost.
Other products to keep away from include:
- Weeds gone to seed (they may germinate)
- Thick branches
- Dairy products
- Dog/cat waste (risk of Toxocara virus/unpleasant)
- Pernicious weeds (twitch grass/ground elder or bindweed/cooch)
- Diseased material
Make a Compost Bin
You can easily construct a containment bin for your compost using a black plastic bin and several other materials. Compost bins with built-in turners ease the task of aeration and blending that break down the mixture and decrease the number of anaerobic microbes that cause the compose to smell moldy.
Key features to look for in a compost bin:
1) Size- The bigger the size, the better. Still, it’s better to fill a small container than to only fill half of a larger one.
2) Color- Dark is the best color as it retains and absorbs heat.
3) Shape- Conical shape for good air circulation and drainage.
4) Solid- with no air holes for the weather. Aeration is crucial but comes from having the right mixture of compostable waste, the Carbon and Nitrogen mix. A compost bin’s external vents work only to aerate the outer waste layer and, in so doing, cool and slows the whole process.
5) Doors- aren’t necessary, not easier to use, and not better, but are pretty popular. It all comes down to personal preference.
Bigger Is Better
If you opt to go the pile route instead of a bin, you’ll typically enjoy more success by bulking up your pile, with a maximum of three by three feet. The more material there is, the hotter the compost will get and the quicker it breaks down.
Composting can take any time from one month to two years, depending on the management and turning. Usually, a well-maintained pile turned regularly can be ready to use after one or two months. Once the compost is done decomposing (you must end up with a soft mixture without discernible items), it’s recommended to utilize that compost in your garden two to four weeks before planting crops. This will provide it with time to integrate and stabilize within the soil.
How to Make Compost at Home
There are two main ways on how to make compost at home:
The Easy Method
- Add as you go.
- Maintain two parts nitrogen/sappy and one part carbon/woody.
- Keep incorporating materials until your bin is full and well settled. The finished compost will be at the bottom.
Better still, have two or more compost bins. When you begin composting, it’s incredible how much you can compost.
The Quicker Method
- Build up a pile of material all at once (the same Carbon and Nitrogen mix)
- Fill the compost bin all at once.
- After one week, turn the pile.
- After one more week, turn the pile again.
- Cover the pile with one or two black polyethylene and composter, then begin again.
- Your compost will be ready in three to four months.