Composting… you may have heard the term, but wondered what the process really entails. There are many different ways to compost, some quite easy and efficient. Compost is a natural process where organic materials break down to create a nutrient-rich soil, perfect for growing fruits, vegetables, flowers and other foliage.
Organic materials might sound like a vague term, but if you think about it, you’ll realize you have organic materials all over your house. Anything that decomposes, from a banana peel to old newspapers, can be part of your compost pile. Whether you’re an avid gardener or an enthusiastic newbie, composting is a great way to increase the richness of your soil and reduce your carbon footprint. The process for creating compost for your home garden includes:
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of composting, its benefits and the different ways you can create nourishing soil for your lawn and plants.
Did you know that food waste makes up 30% of the trash in landfills, waterways and water treatment facilities? By composting, you’re not only making a big impact in your backyard, but in the rest of the world, as well. Here are a few of the benefits of composting:
In 2014, Americans recovered more than 23 million tons of solid waste with composting. Though the process takes time and education, the rewards come in the form of tasty fruits and vegetables, beautiful flowers and a healthier environment.
What Goes In (And Stays Out)
From the Kitchen
Composting starts with organic materials. This is waste that can be broken down and can decompose. All fruit and vegetable scraps can contribute to compost, but keep in mind that peels and rinds might have pesticide residue, so unless you know they are organic, keep them out of the compost. You can also add in egg shells, coffee grounds, tea leaves, shredded paper, cardboard, dryer lint and table scraps, but be sure to exclude meat, bones or fish scraps, as they will likely attract unwanted insect and mammalian pests.
You can store kitchen waste in a container with a lid and a handle under the sink. You can even buy a stainless steel or ceramic container with an air filter. When the container is full, take it out to your composter and toss in the contents.
From the Yard
You can add in clippings and trimmings from plants, flowers, wood and grass; just be sure that you aren’t tossing in any diseased plants or plant parts. Yard and garden materials will decompose at different rates, so if you want to speed up the process, consider breaking larger chunks into smaller pieces. As with anything decomposing, there will be an element of odor, so adding in a layer of soil will help to mask any unwanted scents.
Speaking of unwelcome odors, you can also compost manure. However, avoid using pet manure if you plan on composting for food gardens. Those types of waste are fine for compost that will only be used on flowers and lawns.
Now that you know why you should compost and what goes in, you can start planning your compost pile. Here are some quick tips to get started, and what you can expect along the way.
Composting has many steps, but once you go through the process a few times, you’ll see it can be really simple. There are other, more complex ways to compost, but these also take less time to yield results.
There are many different ways to store your compost. The right method is the one that fits your yard (and your lifestyle) the best. You can create an organized system of storage or simply pile the waste up under a tarp. Here are a few details to help you decide:
Composting adds a richness to your home garden and allows you to create a more natural environment. You can teach your children sustainability, math and chemistry while bringing all-natural, fresh foods to your table. The work involved is well worth the effort when you know what a positive impact you’re having on those you love and the world around you.
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