Compost, simply put, is food for your vegetables. Composting is the breaking down organic materials (organic waste from your kitchen) under certain conditions to generate compost. Compost is a natural fertilizer that enriches your soil and provides healthy nutrients for your plants and vegetables to grow. The best part is, it’s chemical-free and purely organic, just the right help that the world needs from you now.
If you are a beginner and wondering about the best ways to start composting, this guide is for you.
Types of Composting
Based on where you want to start composting, the amount of space you will have, and the types and volume of organic waste you will produce, you can choose one of these composting methods.
Hot Composting or Aerobic Composting
Organic materials rich in carbon and nitrogen are in a proportion of 2:1 (for every two parts of carbon, there should be one part of nitrogen) in a compost bin. Green materials like grass clippings, fruit and vegetable wastes, and fruit peels are rich in nitrogen. Brown materials like wood chips, small twigs, straw, hay, and dried-up autumn leaves are rich in carbon. The compost pile needs to be kept moist by pouring in water every few days with a hose or water can. The water should be in the right amount so that the pile doesn’t turn soggy but is wet. The bacteria thus formed will break down the nitrogen-rich materials and will increase the temperature.
Aeration is an important feature here. To ensure oxygen is supplied across the whole pile, you need to turn the pile every few days. Turning the pile will speed up the process and produce you with an excellent fertilizer faster. This is where a “Compost Tumbler” makes itself very useful. A compost tumbler eases the time and effort spent on turning. There are mechanical compost tumblers available in the market, which perform turning by themselves.
Materials You Need
First, you need a compost bin. There is a wide range of containers available in the market, plastic or wooden containers or a compost tumbler of your desired size. A shovel to turn the pile to let the air pass through. Cooked or uncooked scraps (avoid dairy and meat), fruits, and vegetable materials/scraps from your kitchen.
- Watering, aeration, and turning processes speed up the process of composting.
- You can accomplish this with a compost bin of your desired size.
- Needs your time and effort
- If you don’t keep the pile moist or don’t turn it frequently, it may start to smell bad.
- You can only do this method outdoors.
Cold Composting Or Anaerobic Composting
As the name “anaerobic” suggests, this method works well without much air. In turn, this method doesn’t need much effort from you. You gather the organic materials, pile them up in a bin and leave it like that for a year or two. The smaller the materials that you pile up, the faster the decomposition. Avoid diseased plants as they won’t break down without high temperature. This method will take longer since there is no turning or heat. That becomes a downside for this method. There is no turning, which means the air will not circulate across the whole pile. This could give rise to unwanted bacteria and might lead to a foul odor. This method will suit you if you have waste materials on the go and you do not have time to spend on its recycling, and the bonus is the fertilizer for your garden.
Materials You Need
You will need a compost bin and the organic waste from your kitchen or garden.
- There’s no turning or watering, requiring less effort.
- The whole process takes a long time.
- Chances are high for the compost pile to smell bad.
Worm composting, aka vermicomposting, is the process of adding worms in along with the food scraps to the compost bin. The materials need to be layered one after the other allowing the worms to colonize. These worms break down the organic materials, eat the food scraps, and produce worm castings that will filter out through the bin’s bottom. If you provide the worms with adequate food and safe home, they can reproduce their population and double it by 90 days. So you would need to add the worms once. Worms love to eat vegetable and fruit materials, grains like rice and pasta, cooked or uncooked. Do not add oily foods, meat, or dairy products as these may attract rodents and unwanted pests. You can also add manure from herbivores that are at least a few days old.
Materials You Need
A compost bin specifically for vermicomposting or a tray-based composter eases the effort to remove the worm castings and the organic waste from your kitchen and garden. Worms, like earthworms and red wigglers, etc.,
- There’s no need to turn often.
- You can use this method inside or outside of your house.
Composting mistakes that you need to avoid
- Not turning the compost frequently, if following hot composting. The microbes and bacteria need to continue reproducing. This reproduction produces the heat necessary to break down the materials in the compost pile.
- Putting in the wrong things or putting in the right things in the wrong proportion. You can use the below materials in your compost pile:
- Fruit and vegetable peels/wastes
- Coffee grounds
- Eggshells (though they can take a while to break down)
- Grass clippings
- Dried up leaves
- Chopped wood chips
- Shredded paper
- Straw or hay
- Not covering the compost fully on the top after adding the pile. This will give rise to rodents.
- Exposing the composter to direct sunlight or rain. Keep it in a shady and dry corner of your garden.
Composting is an excellent way of recycling your kitchen wastes with the bonus of providing you a rich fertilizer for your plants to grow healthy. With composting, the common landfills are less crowded, and the environment is cleaner. Compost is called the “Black Gold” that many gardeners are after.