Composting Made Easy
First we need to define what composting is. Composting is the decomposition of organic material into a soil like material that can be used for enriching garden/flower beds or house plants. Composting is a rich source of nutrients for your plant material. It is a very efficient way to recycle organic waste and also a great way to save on fertilizers for your plants.
Benefits to Composting
Composting reduces the amount of waste that is directed to landfills significantly. Some families are able to reduce their waste going to landfills by 1 garbage bag per week. Think about how much waste reduction that would be if your whole block did that and the impact it would have over time. When you mix compost with soil you improve the soil structure, texture, aeration and water retention. Mixing compost with soil helps with root development and soil fertility because it feeds off of the nutrients still left in the organic material.
With the help of insects, earthworms and microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, they help breakdown and transform your yard material, kitchen waste and other organic material into compost. The insects, earthworms and microorganisms need oxygen and water to successfully decompose organic waste. The keys activities required to help composting happen faster are surface area, aeration, moisture and temperature.
The surface area also has a role in how quickly and successful decomposition can occur. To increase surface area of the material being composted can be done by chopping, shredding, mowing or breaking up the material. Increasing the surface area means that the microorganisms are able to digest more material, multiply more quickly and generate more heat.
Aeration helps with composting. Aeration is the replacement of oxygen to the center of the compost pile. Turning the compost pile is an excellent way to introduce oxygen to the center of the compost pile. You can do this with a pitchfork, shovel or an actual tool called an “aerator.” Another way to get oxygen to the center is to ensure that your composter has excellent ventilation.
Microorganisms need moisture to help breakdown the organic waste. If there isn’t enough moisture the microorganism may slow down or become dormant. If there is too much moisture, it could impede aeration, cause vital nutrients to leak out and cause decomposition to slow down. To test for too much moisture, squeeze some of the material and it if feels like a wrung out sponge then you’re good. If you have too much moisture try turning your material to mix it up or add more content to the pile.
Temperature also plays a role in composting. When decomposition occurs the temperature inside the compost pile increases. In the winter decomposition will slow down in colder climates.
What can be composted?
There are different types of material that can be composted. They range from green material to brown material. Green material tends to be green plants, weeds, fruit, vegetable scraps, green leaves, coffee grounds and tea bags. Brown material tends to be dry and dead plant material like straw, dry brown weeds, autumn leaves, wood chips and saw dust. When composting green weeds, be careful not to put any weeds that have seeds as depending on the weed it could start growing in the compost. If you decide to compost grass clippings be sure to use thin layers and to mix thoroughly. If you don’t the grass could get slimy and compact, which will reduce the air flow, which will slow down decomposition.
If you are composting kitchen scraps they need to be mixed with drier bulkier material because kitchen scraps tend to be moist and higher in nitrogen. Again kitchen scraps like vegetables, fruits, coffee grounds, tea leaves, tea bags, egg shells and similar material are good to use in the compost. Material like bones, meat scraps, milk products and fatty food wastes should be avoided because they tend to attract pests. For kitchen scraps you could bury the material closer to the center of the pile to avoid attracting pests. Also some people have blended up the material. This is a quick way to get the microorganisms to breakdown the material faster.
Now the type of composter you use will determine how fast your material is broken down. You could use one Compost Bin or several Compost Bins, a Compost Tumbler or a trench. For more information on composting check out Compost Bins and a Compost Tumbler.