Composting is referred to as “one of nature’s best mulches and soil amendments.” Composting is a cost-effective method of creating soil nutrients that you can use inexpensively for your gardening to improve soil fertility. The other advantage of composting is that it is eco-friendly and it does not cause an impact on the environment like chemical fertilizers.
Compost also helps to improve soil texture, structure and aeration together with the soil’s holding capacity of water. As such, this composting guide, how to compost gives you some valuable information about you can build and maintain your compost at home.
Benefits of Composting
There are several benefits that you can obtain from composting apart from improving soil fertility and growth of healthy plants. Compost helps sand soil to retain water while at the same time also helping to loosen clay soils. You can make these types of soils arable by using compost.
Maintain Soil in Healthy and Balanced Condition
Composts consist of organic matter which provides food for microorganisms which help to maintain the soil in a healthy and balanced condition. Compounds such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous are produced naturally through composting. Composting is good for the environment since it helps to produce vital nutrients to the soil without using any chemicals.
Composting is another viable method of dealing with waste management. You do not necessarily throw away all materials that you can use for composting. Organic materials from our yards and kitchens are vital for composting which helps solve the problem of waste disposal. At the same time, waste material is recycled to improve the fertility of the soil.
The other important factor is that you can do composting at zero cost at your home. You just need the right information about how you can create compost and you can use organic waste for that purpose. You do not invest any money to create compost which in turn has many benefits.
Composting helps to improve the soil’s water-holding capacity which means that you will not incur huge water bills. When your soil is capable of retaining moisture, then it does not require constant watering. The other issue is that fuel is saved since the garbage can be recycled at home instead of being transported for disposal.
The method of composting is good for your garden and it also helps to improve waste management. Composts are also good for the environment. The following section gives you details about how you can create and maintain your compost at home.
How Composting Works?
Now that you know that composting is a product of controlled biological decomposition of once-living organic material, you can do it at your home. Composting requires microbes which are responsible for the decomposition of organic material to form the rich soil.
There are mainly two types of composting namely aerobic composting which requires oxygen to take place and anaerobic composting which does not require it. The focus of this guide is aerobic composting which is the most common and includes piles.
When you are composting, it is crucial to ensure that the microscopic creatures that are responsible for decomposition have favorable materials and conditions. These help in the formation of healthy composts that will handsomely reward your gardens by enhancing soil fertility. Elements like compostable material, heat, oxygen as well as moisture are vital for your compost.
Location of the Compost
If you are to create a compost pile in your yard, then you need to look for the best location. You must avoid a place with poor drainage since it can lead to waterlogging which is not good for your compost. Excess moisture can negatively impact on your compost.
You must also identify a location with good aeration for your compost. You must also avoid placing your compost closer to wooden buildings since the decomposition process can affect them. You can also consider erecting a shade above your compost to prevent overheating.
The exact location and type of your compost are matters of choice since you know exactly what you want. Above that, you must make sure that your compost does not cause an unsightly appearance in the neighborhood.
Items to Include in Your Compost Pile
There are certain items that you should include in your compost pile while at the same time avoiding others. You can add plants and yard waste including flowers, leaves as well as grass clippings to your compost pile. You can also add food scraps like vegetables, nutshells, pasta and rice, eggshells, coffee filters, and tea bags. You can also add shredded paper, greasy pizza boxes as well as towels and napkins.
You should avoid dairy products, meats, oily fish as well as non-herbivore animal manure in your compost. Diseased plants are also not right for your compost since these components can attract unwanted pests. The other issue is that these items can produce a bad smell that may not be comfortable.
Building your Compost
When building your compost, you must make sure that you prepare the materials first. For instance, you must shred them into smaller particles to enhance the decomposition process. You must lay the waste material in your pile in layers of max 2”-4.”
You start with putting sticks, dried leaves then green material as illustrated below. A balanced equation of dry and green waste material is vital since it helps to speed up the composting process. You must keep your compost covered and you must also remember that it has a balance of water, nitrogen, and carbon.
Make sure that you do not squash the waste material in your compost pile since this can squeeze the air out which is a vital component of the composting process. When there is no air you can end up creating a smelly heap that may not satisfy your needs.
The microbes that break down the compostable in your compost pile require water for their survival. However, judging the appropriate amount of water that you can add to the compost can be difficult. Too much water is not good for the compost since it means that organic material would not decompose under “swamp conditions.
On the other hand, too little water will kill the bacteria which also affects the decomposition process. The compost should be moist but not soggy. Therefore, add green material to the compost which means you will not require too much water to the compost. You must also soak all dry material like hay in water before adding it to the compost pile to avoid drying it out.
When you are composting at home make sure that you have a roof over the compost pile if you receive a lot of rain. Too much rain can soak away the nutrients and it can also affect the decomposition process. It is better that you add the moisture that you feel is sufficient for your compost instead of leaving it soaking in rain.
Temperature and Aeration
High temperature helps to speed the decomposition process and it should be around 140-160˚F. a lot of heat is generated by the organisms that are responsible for speeding up the decomposition process. At high temperatures, all weeds are killed and the pile should produce about 170˚F for about a week. You can use a compost thermometer to get the exact temperature measurements within the compost pile.
The other important element pertains to aeration. Your compost pile requires oxygen for aerobic composting to take place. Therefore, you must make sure that your compost pile has adequate ventilation so that the microorganisms can perform the rest of the action.
You can improve the aeration in your pile by constantly turning pile. You can use a pitchfork to turn the pile of. Turning the pile is also a good thing since it helps to rearrange the decomposing material. By turning the pile, you move the less decomposed material to the center of the pile to speed up the composting process.
How Long Does Composting Take?
If carefully managed, your compost can be ready in about two months. However, if the compost pile is not properly managed, it can take even up to two years. Since the composting process is controlled, you must also make an effort to attend to your compost pile regularly.
You can observe that your compost is ready when it is completely broken down and resembles rich organic soil. You cannot recognize all the waste ingredients in your pile when it is ready. The other aspect is that the pile does not heat up even after mixing the ready contents.
Composting is a wonderful method of turning waste material into valuable nutrients that can improve soil fertility. There are many advantages of composting since it helps to recycle waste material to help you improve your gardening experience.
The process is eco-friendly and it can help improve the texture of your soil by making rich amendments to it using waste material. Above all, the process is inexpensive since it does not cost you even a single cent. You only need to understand a few principles to do your composting at home.