Home Composting Basics

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home composting

One of the advantages of nature is that everything has a use, from rotting zucchini to lavender sprouting. You can use waste or leftovers of food and do home composting yourself.

Turning the leftovers into fertile products boosts the productivity of gardens and landscapes.

Compost is an organic material that you can add to the soil which provides benefits not only to your plants but also to the micro-organisms and the soil itself.

Food waste and yard waste together can be composted.

Due to this matter, the bacteria present in the matter break in the soil and biodegradable trash.

As a result, it provides rich minerals that are ideal for gardening and farming.

Moreover, it is a natural amendment and you can add them to the soil any time of the year without burning the plants or polluting the water.

This guide sums up how you can use food waste to make compost for your garden and crops, and its benefits

But first, let us start with types of composting.

Types of Composting

There are 2 types of composting before your begin. These are hot and cold composting,

Cold composting is as easy as collecting waste from your yard or taking out organic materials in your trash.

This includes fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds and filters as well as eggshells.

Then you corral them in a pile or compost bin. Over a period of a year or so, it will decompose thus making compost for your garden or plants.

home composting types

However, hot compost requires you to play an active role and is rather a fast process.

During warm weather, you will get the compost within 3 months.

You will need 4 ingredients for fast-cooking hot compost, These are nitrogen, carbon, air, and water.

Together, these 4 feed the micro-organisms which speed up the process of decay.

Moreover, during spring or fall, you can mix one big batch of compost and then start the second one while the first one is in the process of making.

Vermicompost is made with the help of worms.

As these worms eat the food scraps, they release castings that contain nitrogen,

For this, you will need redworms or red wigglers. You can purchase these worms online or from a garden supplier.

Materials to Compost and Avoid?

If you want to use the food that is present in the refrigerator and does not want to use it then you can make compost out of it.

Keeping a container in your kitchen is the easy way to collect your composting material.

Also, you can make your own compost bin if you do not want to buy it from the market.

You can collect fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, dry leaves, chopped wood, and bark chips, sawdust, straw, eggshells, and newspaper.

home composting materials

According to some gardeners, adding onions, citrus peel and garlic can repel the composting worms, thus think before adding them to your bin.

The following are the items you should not add to your compost meal.

Meat, oil fat, plant materials that have diseases, pet feces, weeds, or dairy products.

Not only will these cause problems, but will also make your compost smell bad and attract animals and pests.

Therefore, avoid the above items and do not add them to your finished compost.

Making Hot Compost

Everyone has a different level of preference and commitment when it comes to computing at home.

You can add a variety of materials from your kitchen and even use science to make sure you get the best of compost materials.

However, most of you would make sure to use nature and science to do the work.

All composting requires the following 3 ingredients:

  • Browns: This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
  • Greens: This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
  • Water: Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.

It is important to note that your green and brown material should be equal.

You can alternate the layers of organic material. The brown material provides carbon for your compost, the greens provide nitrogen and water provides moisture that helps to break down the organic matter.

Let’s get started with the procedure of home composting.

Step 1: Combine Green and Brown Materials

To make your compost heap, you will need enough material to make a pile a least 3 to 4 feet deep.

You will have to combine your wet, green items with dry and brown items in the first step.

Brown material includes dried plant materials, fallen leaves, tree branches, cardboard, or newspaper, as well as hay or straw.

home composting, combining materials

While green material includes kitchen scraps, coffee or tea grounds, animal manure, that does not include your pet’s feces, fresh plants, or grass trimmings.

It is important to note the green material adds nitrogen to the composting material which is beneficial for the process of decomposing.

If you want to obtain the best results, start building your compost pile by mixing 3 parts brown with 1 part green materials.

In case the pile loos too wet and smells, add more brown items, while if it looks too brown or dry, add green items and water it to make it moist. As a result, it will emit greenhouse gas.

Step 2: Water your Compost Pile

The second step involves adding water to the pile.

You can sprinkle water on the pile regularly so it looks like a damp sponge.

However, it is important to note that you should not add too much water. In such a case, excess water in the pile will make micro-organisms become waterlogged and drown.

Thus, your pile will rot instead of composting.

watering the pile

Moreover, you will have to monitor the temperature of your pile. Use a thermometer to make sure the materials are decomposing.

A working compost pile will heat up to temperatures of 140-160°F. If the temperature of your pile peaks or is at 170F and then starts to drop, it’s time to turn the pile.

Additionally, you can also put your hand in the center of the pile. If it is hot or warm, then it means then the pile is decomposing.

However, if the temperature of the pile is the same as that of air, then the microbes are slowing down as well as the process of composting.

Step 3: Stir Up your Pile

You can use a garden fork to stir up your composting pile to provide it with oxygen. Do this at least once a week.

The best time to turn the pile is when it feels warm or when the temperature reads between 130 to 150F.

Thus, when your stir up the pile, it helps to decompose it fast and prevents the material from melting down and developing an odor.

stir it

At this time, the purpose of layering the brown and green material is done, thus make sure to stir thoroughly.

Moreover, in addition to aerating, chop and shred raw ingredients into small sizes to speed up the process of composting.

Step 4: Time to Feed your Plants

When you feel that your pile is not giving off heat, and become dry, brown, and crumbly, it means that the process of composting is complete and you can now feed it to your plants.

However, try adding the material to your plants and flower beds at the beginning of the planting season.

Some people also add compost tea to the finished pile. This includes allowing your compost to steep in the water for several days, then strain them to use it as a homemade liquid fertilizer.

Tips and Techniques for Home Composting

The following are a few tips and techniques you can use into compost more quickly:

  • Start a compost pile with blood meal, cottonseed meal, aged manure, or compost starter. The advantage of using them is that they contain excess nitrogen and help the micro-organisms to break the organic matter.
  • Shred and chop the materials before putting them in a compost pile
  • Use huge kitchen containers to pile up kitchen scraps

tips and techniques

  • Avoid using plants that have been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
  • Add a huge pile of waste rather than adding small amounts.
  • Stir, stir, stir. This will introduce oxygen and speed up the process.
  • Keep the pile or bin under direct sunlight. This will make microbes more active
  • Adding activators like worm composting that can help speed up the process
  • After the process finishes, it will be half of the initial pile but much dense.
  • Apply compost after 2 to 4 weeks giving it time to integrate and stabilize within the soil.

Indoor Composting

In case, you do not have space for an outdoor compost pile, you can always do it indoors using special bins.

You can buy them from a local hardware shop, gardening supplies, or make them yourself.

However, remember to tend to the pile and keep a track of what you are throwing in it.

You can add food scraps, veggies, coffee grounds, tea bags, paper, and trimming from indoor plants.

But avoid adding meat, dairy, or fats into your indoor compost bin. It is a good idea to avoid composting very smelly items or watery items, such as melons or squashes

If you properly manage it, it will not attract pests or rodents and will also not smell bad. Moreover, it will be ready in 2 to 5 weeks.

The TakeAway

Home Composting is an easy process if you know the basics. It requires the items from your kitchen and the grown items as well as water. Knowing the items to add to the pile, what to avoid, and understanding the process can help you make a composting pile at home effectively.

Moreover, it helps to improve the soil texture, and aeration increases soil fertility and stimulates the healthy growth of roots. It also helps to retain water, add important nutrients without causing harmful effects to the environment and is a cheap way to fertilize your plants and soil.

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