Why should you have a compost?
Some common misconceptions about composting are that it’s too much work or makes your kitchen smell. But, in the end, it is much easier than you think, and it has a lot of benefits.
It significantly reduces your trash
People don’t realize how much food waste and organic matter end up in their trash cans, so composting will no longer be the case.
It feeds your garden
Finished compost is a nutrient-rich mixture that nourishes gardens and the soil in your yard in a much more complete and natural way than any synthetic fertilizer.
It keeps your soil healthier
Adding compost to soil improves its structure and texture, making it ideal for future plant growth.
It reduces your costs
This is the best one of all – less money spent on trash bills and synthetic fertilizers.
How to build a compost pile?
There are many different ways to compost; the main difference is where and how you pile your materials:
Piling – Piling is a simple, common process. Materials are heaped into a pile and turned periodically to “breathe.”
Composting bins – These are either open or enclosed bins that contain everything.
Tumblers – This is a type of enclosed compost bin. A tumbler has a handle that allows it to be “turned” or tumbled quickly.
Worm composting – The materials are broken down by worms called red wigglers, often in a special worm bin. Focuses mainly on kitchen waste.
Bokashi composting – This is a closed system that uses fermentation, bacteria, and a lack of oxygen to break down the material.
The easiest way to compost is to create a pile in your garden, so let’s have a look at how to do it:
1.Choose the right place.
Choose an open area with good drainage. A place with partial sun or shade is also ideal. Too much sun can dry it out, while too much shade can keep it too soggy. Finally, choose a location that is easy for you to access and avoid areas near meat-eating animals.
2. Add organic materials
Your compost pile should consist of two types of
materials – “greens” and “browns”. A simple rule of thumb is to add approximately 2/3 “brown” materials and 1/3 “green” materials to the compost pile.
3. Keep it moist
Water is the final key element in a successful compost pile. Without moisture, your pile may take months or may not break down at all. On the other hand, if your pile smells, it is likely too wet.
4. Turn it regularly
Whether using a simple pile or a compost bin, you will need to turn your materials now and then – approximately every two to four weeks.
What to compost and what not?
Before we jump to the most common questions about composting – let me explain two essential elements that need to be part of the compost pile:
Brown materials – are typically wood-based or fibrous, such as dry leaves, branches, stems, sawdust, tree bark, shredded paper, wood ash, etc. They are carbon-rich and provide energy to the microorganisms in a pile.
Green materials – e.g., examples of green elements are food scraps, coffee grounds, green leaves, etc. They are nitrogen-rich and provide amino acids and proteins needed for the bacteria to do their job.
What to compost:
- Fruits, vegetable peels
- Stale bread
- Newspaper, shredded paper, cardboard
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Grass, leaves, branches
- Hair and fur
- Ashes from fireplace
- Wine corks
- Used paper napkins
What NOT to compost:
- Leaves and twigs from specific trees like Black Walnut (toxic substances)
- Dairy products, eggs,
- Oils, fish, meat scraps
- Treated wood/sawdust
- Vacuum cleaner content
- Weeds that have gone to seed
- Leather goods
- Citrus fruit peels
- Human waste
- Plastic, diapers
- Toxic or diseased plants
Additional tips & tricks
Last but not least, I would like to give you additional tips & tricks about composting and how to avoid some common mistakes.
• Cut all materials into smaller pieces
• Cover the top of the pile if it is raining too often in your area
• Add nitrogen fertilizer if you are adding too much brown into the pile
• Don’t keep food waste at the top of your compost pile – it can attract rats or other animals
• Place the compost on the ground + in the shade to prevent it from drying out
• Spray the compost with water if it becomes too dry
• In general, try to keep the balance between greens & browns