Composting is not a very alien word these days. Everyone talks about composting things and creating less trash and following the 5 Rs- reuse repeat recycle reduce rot. First and foremost is reducing our needs and our wants. Reducing things is one of the basic things you can do.
Then comes reusing and repeating what you have already had. It is also a great thing to follow to reduce waste.
Then comes recycling and rotting things, and composting is the part of this cycle. Composting comes under rotting and recycling of the waste in a manner that you get black gold fertilizers. Do you know that 60 per cent of our waste is organic waste and a cubic yard of compost cost more than 600$? Why do you think we should not be segregating and composting our waste at home.
CHECK HERE – World Waste facts
COMPOSTING your food is not only good for your environment but also makes great compost and fertilizer that is great for plants and vegetables. Outdoor balcony, courtyard or a garden, you can compost anywhere but if you live indoor look for vermicomposting where the worms do all the work and help you compost.
WHAT IS COMPOSTING AND HOW IT IS MADE?
Composting is a process that involves decomposition of organic matter. The organic matter is broken into simpler matter such as water, sugars, salts, minerals and carbon dioxide. The natural matter that comes from the remains of organisms such as plants, animals and their waste products. They are the source of carbon-based compounds in the environment. Decomposing is a natural cycle that comes with the recycling of matters that occupies space in the biosphere.
Every organic matter takes its time and process to decompose. So the process to decompose this organic matter is called composting. Composting is a soil conditioner that comes out of the organic waste matter. The process recycles various items from your home or locality which otherwise would have ended in the landfills where they will take so much more time to decompose and also might not even decompose completely.
It’s a single best method to reduce and recycle waste from your home and use it in your home or anywhere else. Compost is highly rich in nutrition and can be used in all sorts of landscapes, gardens solid farming and agriculture. It is a natural fertilizer, soil conditioner, also natural pesticides control the soil erosion etc.
WHY DO YOU COMPOST
– Pretty simple – Food scraps go to bin and then to landfills and then what happens is due to very less oxygen and no space to breathe, it produces methane gas which is a greenhouse gas eventually heats up the planet and obviously not good for the planet..this is not what we want.
– Sending food scraps to landfills gets mixed with the sludgy matter to produce leachate which goes in the soil and eventually to water bodies and its not good for the creatures and for us.
– For the reason, you get great compost and you don’t need commercial compost.
WHAT IS COMPOST USED FOR
Composting is important because it is a great soil conditioner
It provides essential nutrients to the plants
It avoids soil erosion and retain moisture in the soil
It is super environment friendly
It is a great alternative to chemical fertilizers
It’s beneficial to microorganisms
It reduces wastage from kitchen
It cleans your backyard and Garden
It reduces your contribution to landfill waste
It breaks down organic matter
It prevents plant disease and avoids synthetic pesticides.
It’s free of cost
You dont need any expertise and can easily do it yourself.
HOW DO YOU MAKE THE BEST COMPOST – ESSENTIALS
Four things you need to make perfect compost. If very easy to make but if we just dump the scraps in the compost it will rot rather than decompose. So first is :
Oxygen – Air – basically if you are composting in a box or an enclosed chamber, make sure it has a continuous air circulation going within it. If you have a pile, keep on turning and giving it more air and moisture to decompose and breathe.
Moisture – water – the right balance of water and moisture is so important. If there is too much water it will drown and drench and if it’s less it’s gonna dry and the process will stop. So you have to go with your instincts that if it needs water or just no water. Turn around and see if there are too wet or too dry spaces.
Nitrogen – Greens – all things green, vegetables, fruits and ground egg shells, coffee grounds and used coffee scrubs, grass clipping from the garden etc. Little things like these will give nitrogen.
Carbon – Browns – A compost needs more carbon than nitrogen. Put in your browns like dry leaves, saw dust and straws, newspaper with soy or plant based inks (check with the dealer) and cardboard and a big no to glossy magazines.
Another thing is to segregate the waste, removing stickers etc. Balancing carbon and nitrogen is so important otherwise it will take a bit longer.
BASIC TIPS AND RULES FOR COMPOSTING
Tip no 1 – the compost area should have more carbon than nitrogen. To achieve this we can have roughly 1/3 of green materials like food scraps, grass and leaves and flowers from the garden, clippings, manure etc. and 2/3 of the brown materials like dry leaves, eggshells and branches etc.
Tip no 2 – You should always throw in some dry leaves and clipping over the wet kitchen waste. This way it will reduce the smell of the compost bin.
Tip no 3 – all the materials in the composting bin will take their own time to decompose but will be done eventually but just in case you want to speed up the process you can chop the materials into small pieces so that they break down quickly.
Tip no 4 – sometimes if you have a small compost try to cover it with a black cover. This will heat it up and fasten the process.
WHAT CAN YOU COMPOST
In simple terms, compost is decomposed organic matter. Organic matter is anything that was once living, was part of something living, or was produced by something living. Fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, manure, leaves, sawdust, eggshells, and straw are all examples of organic matter that can be used to make compost.
However, it’s important to know that certain types of organic matter–such as dairy products, meat, fish, bones, fats, oils, pet waste, diseased or insect-ridden plants, or plants that have been chemically treated–should not be used to make compost.
Things included in composting.
- Fruits and vegetable scraps
- Eggshells – advanced composting
- Cardboard boxing – no coat no wax no sticker
- Stale wine and beer
- Coffee grounds
- Paper towels/ napkins
- Tissues and rolls
- Cotton buds decomposable
- Natural loofahs
- Latex balloons and condoms
- Hay and animal fur
- Chopped wine cork
- Manure and feathers and droppings
- Trimmed grass clippings
- Fallen leaves
- Cotton fabric
- Loose tea leaf
- Compost able tampon
- Newspapers and old ropes
Things to avoid in composting or cannot compost
- Meat and meat scraps
- Synthetic fibres
- Raw eggs
- Seafood meat
- Fats and grease
- Milk products
- Coals and charcoal ash
- Pets and human waste
- Plants with pesticides
- Diseased plants
- Treated wood
- High acidic food
- Diapers and sanitary pads
- Tea and coffee bags
- Plastic and inorganic
- Onion and garlic peel
- Coated heavy printed paper
- Large branches
TYPES OF COMPOSTS
Composting simply means breaking down the organic matter and we can do/it by three methods. Doing so we can make great fertilizers for our lawns, garden, pots, yards and farms which is inexpensive and natural.
DIFFERENT PROCESSES FOR COMPOSTING
As you all know the aerobic means anything that requires oxygen. So this kind of composting needs oxygen to break down the matter. But since this needs oxygen and air that is why it needs to be turned and twisted to make the airflow going. These days the tumbler style compost bins have come in the market wherein you can save lots of time and effort. This type of composting needs lots of airspace in the composter.
Keep in mind that that you need to add green matter so that a lot of nitrogen is there and as the bacteria quickly breaks down the scraps having nitrogen, the temperature of the compost will get higher which will speed up the process. So since the whole compost is slightly warmer in temperature continuous water should be added to retain the moisture. Since nitrogen smells really bad, a fine balance off continuously watering and turning the compost will reduce the odour
Completely opposite to aerobic composting this one doesn’t need any air or any turning and tossing. Just keep dumping the scraps in the composter or the bin and forest it. Don’t touch it for a year. It needs very little effort. But then why we don’t recommend it. Because it smells terrible and it’s not really great for the environment because due to no air or fewer air lots of harmful greenhouse gases are produced and terrible bacteria takes over the compost bins.
This is the usual/process in the landfills and that. Is the reason there are a shout and cry of reducing your home waste reaching out in the landfills. It produces lots and lots of methane gases which is very bad for the environment. May places you must have encountered that stinks like crazy. That’s where you can see the anaerobic composting.
This one is the most popular one. It uses the fine balance of worms, oxygen and moisture to break down the organic matter with very less odour. This is because the worms added help in the compost and help the process go well along with the bacterias.
Red worms are considered best for the composting and it has great benefits over the other two methods because it has less smell and odour, we don’t need to twist and turn frequently, it is very flexible in terms of the location, you can set it up indoor and outdoor, you can have companions and pets as worms and it becomes part of your household and also easy to harvest the fertilizer and also the microbial activities are 10-20 higher than usual composting.
HOW DO YOU MAKE COMPOST – Step by step guide for composting
Step 1 – collect all/the kitchen and home scraps in a scrap container to be used in the compost. Please do not use the items you can’t compost in the box.
Step 2 – pick up a spot and set up a compost pile in your yard. Or purchase a pre-made compost bin from the stores or you can even construct a particularly designed compost bin for your compost
Step 3 – to begin setting up the compost pile add dry light brown leaves and dry scraps from the garden and put it first. If you don’t have it then just add some dry garden soil or any existing compost soil, to begin with.
Step 4 – next up is putting the green materials that are high in nitrogen and can be used to activate the heating process in your compost. Fruits vegetables coffee grounds, manure etc all can be added at this stage or the so-called second layer of the compost yard. Make sure that you don’t put large quantities and there is a space for them to breath and have enough oxygen and space and microbes to develop and decompose.
Step 5 – then comes the brown materials which are high in carbon and serve as a fibre. This can include dried leaves dead plats flowers hays etc.
Step 6 – add other items like fallen hair, paper towers napkins, eggshells paper bags cotton fabric etc. whatever you are using use it in moderation.
Step 7 – then repeat the cycle of like 3-4 layers of light brown to dark brown to green thin layers.
Step 8 – now cover the bin or the pile with general garden waste. Covering is important because compost pile can attract lots of insects and animals and also generate bad smell. So covering is important. If you don’t have it then make sure that the wet waste or the green waste is one layer under. Don’t keep the greens or wet on top because it can create issues.
Step 9 – now make sure that your compost bin is moist for the organic materials to break down easily. Just sprinkle with water lightly and make sure that the pile is moisturized all the time but it is not too wet nor too dry. Create a balance
Step 10 – crush the items in the compost bin into small pieces so that it takes less time to creak and decompose.
Step 11 – if you are using a compost bin then you can even try considering it to cover with black cloth to rise up/the temperature which directly affects the microbial activities with the increase of nitrogen inside.
Step 12 – try to mix the matter and try to bring out matter that are tied inside and do some tossing and turning. Break down things that are hard or big, add new matter with the old matter so that is gets introduced with the family easily. Try to turn your pile once every week. If you are regularly throwing the fresh scraps it because important to toss it else it becomes smelly.
Step 13 – start to determine if the compost is ready. When your compost turns into a deep brown colour, it no longer gets warm and your see that things are almost broken down and then is less activity happing then you should stop putting more and finish it off. It usually takes 2-3 months to get it done.
Step 14 – time to use the compost and if everything goes well then you will get a good layer of compost at the bottom of your bin.
BASICALLY proper material layering – layer 1 of carbon, layer 2 of nitrogen and layer 3 of topsoil keeping it moist and turning it weekly would do the magic. ! Balance of carbon – dead brown dry and Nitrogen – green and Hydrogen and oxygen – Water and air. Usually its 60 % carbon and 40 % nitrogen.
PROBLEMS AND ISSUES WHILE COMPOSTING
Unpleasant smell or odour
Compost not heating or warm
Compost too hot
Too damp inside dry outside
Insects and rodent issues
Taking too long to decompose
CONCLUSION- START NOW !
Composting is the most natural way to grow food and gardens. People are concerned that is hard to do or its really bad to smell and takes a long long time. The simple approach is to store your peels and scraps except for onions and garlic also sometimes eggshells because it takes a long time to break also citrus peels. Meat and dairy are a bit no-no for the compost because it smells and attracts pest and animals. Coffee grounds are just amazing. It’s a microbial action in the pile, 3 ft by 3 ft or black plastic compost as heating is an integral part of composting because heat helps the microbes break down the organic matter.
Wet greens plus dry browns in layers plus some air, water and heat are what your need to be absolutely zero waste and make your own compost. A right balance. If you find that its smelling or is too wet try to add dry browns and if you think its dry add greens plus some water. It should smell like good soil and looks like beautiful crumble chocolate cake.