Getting started with home composting to help create healthy soil.
A compost pile, consists of items like food scraps and yard clippings, is an environment where bacteria, fungi, worms, and insects like spiders and slugs can break it all down naturally.
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How is compost prepared at home?
All that’s needed is a container collecting kitchen scraps inside, and a fork and rake to keep your pile turned and tidy outside.
Many gardeners will have two or three bins they’re composting in rotation. They may use the hot process with one container while stockpiling in another, getting fresh compost weekly.
The basics are simply alternating wet and dry materials.
Moisture is essential for the composting process. To benefit from the natural composting process, you must collect material and gather it in one spot.
When composting grass cuttings, the thing to remember is making sure you don’t add too much of them compared to the other materials in your mixture.
Fall is an excellent time to start the pile because we have an adequate supply of materials to feed the pile. When composting, separating your organics from other waste materials means reducing odours and other issues.
- Newspapers are recycled materials and paper already.
- Layering helps it reach the correct nitrogen balance.
- A lot of composting structures can be purchased or built.
- Provides a great source of organic fertiliser for your edibles.
Compost mainly reduces the volume of yard wastes and convert plant materials into a usable soil amendment. Making compost keeps the materials out of landfills where they take up space while releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Vegetable and fruit waste from the kitchen aren’t scraps you should throw out, but something to add to your compost pile or bin. You can even use your coffee grounds, grass clippings and most food waste.
Worms love the shredded paper and will often nest in it.
Compost is the best soil improvement you can use for the fertility and health of your soil. Composting your yard waste turns the organic matter into a valuable soil amendment that you must otherwise pay for.
The compost pile, though, is not just an organic trash heap. Certain things should be done to make it a useful means to produce usable compost in a relatively short while.
Making good use of food and yard waste.
Never place cooked food, dairy products, meat, fish bones, or fat in your compost bin, as these substances produce odours that can lure pests.
When you add food scraps, add at least that amount of dry leaves on top. The green matter would be food scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells and grass clippings.
The first layer needs to consist of carbon items only.
Plant matter and food scraps are all you need to compost. You can stockpile compost ingredients such as piles or bags of leaves, straw, grass clippings and other yard waste, along with food scraps.
When including food scraps in your compost pile, you need to be wary about attracting animals and insects and creating bad smells.
Are grass clippings good compost?
Composting Grass Clippings
Composting involves mixing grass clippings and other plant materials with a small amount of soil containing microorganisms that decompose organic matter. Grass clippings are excellent additions to a compost pile because of their high nitrogen content.
The way to do that is by keeping meat out of the pile and ensuring that any exposed food is covered using a layer of dry leaves, soil, or finished compost. When adding food scraps, bury them entirely in the centre of the pile.
Composting as an alternative to throwing away food waste and other organics slashes environmental impacts. It transforms otherwise squandered scraps into a useful resource.
These basic principles help you turn your food scraps and other materials, including paper towels and newspapers, into a healthy, functioning compost pile. The brown matter is twigs, dried leaves and cardboard whereas the green material would be classed as food scraps and vegetable peelings.
Essentials include straw, sod, hay, and sawdust.
If your pile seems to decompose slowly, try breaking up food scraps and other parts into smaller pieces providing more surface area for the microbes to attack.
Food scraps, yard trimmings and paper products are the most common ingredients used to feed compost heaps. However, plenty of other organic waste can be added, too. Dumping food waste and other organic matter into landfills just doesn’t make sense.
Adding to your compost pile.
You’ll want to add all the types of organic material you can find. Not only does that add needed material for the process, but it helps keep odours down.
When you need to add water, insert your garden hose into the pile in several places, if it’s a large one, or sprinkle the pile with water next time you turn it. Any green material breaks down over time, so it is all fine to add.
Let earthworms and their castings do the work for you.
Gardeners have been including grass clippings in their compost heaps for centuries. It’s probably the most abundant material in any garden.
Don’t make this more complicated than what it is, just add browns and greens, mix and keep it wet as a wrung-out sponge. Using shredded newspaper is an excellent addition to the compost heap in your garden.
Just add compostable materials until the area is at capacity and then let it sit until it’s broken down.
When you add earthworms to your compost pile, it helps speed-up breaking down the organic matter in your compost bin. Vermicomposting uses worms and soil microbes to convert organic waste into vermicompost consisting of worm castings and decayed organic matter.
Keep a balance of about 75% garden waste, including leaves and non-diseased plants, to around 25% kitchen scraps. Different composting materials decompose at different rates with yard and garden wastes at different rates, but they will eventually break down.
It helps with balancing the pH level in your soil.
Don’t lose sleep over those potato offcuts and peelings sprouting new plants in your compost pile, they are safe to turn into fresh soil for the garden. Instead of just chucking these in the bin, you can take them down to the back garden and add them to the heap.
Your garden will love the nutrients from the compost when you add it to the soil. In sandy soils, additional organic matter also helps with nutrient and water retention.
Turning and watering your compost.
To help speed up the composting progression, sprinkle each layer with water, crush materials into smaller pieces, and place a cover on top to keep it warm. If the material gets too dry, you can water it with a hose to maintain the composting microbes’ moisture.
You can regularly add fresh materials and turn and water during the warmer season while monitoring your compost temperature.
Oxygen and moisture are essential to microbial activity.
Most of the water will come from rain and the moisture in green materials. Still, you may need to occasionally water the pile yourself. Surplus water can create a low oxygen setting where particular microbes multiply producing foul odours.
The purpose of turning is to increase the microorganisms’ oxygen flow and blend un-decomposed materials into the pile’s centre. This turning process aerates the pile, which speeds up composting.
Can you use too much compost?
“There’s no such thing as too much compost.”
Some quite reputable people will say this, word for word. The reason, of course, is that most farmers and gardeners are constantly struggling to produce enough compost for their fields and gardens. It’s hard to imagine having too much.
For faster compost breakdown, use a compost turner or turn the mixture with a garden fork a few times a week. With just little resources, knowledge, time, and persistent, you too can have a healthy compost pile quickly.
Turning the pile often will provide an ample amount of air and speed the composting process. Unless speed is a priority, frequent turning is not always necessary.
The total mass of plant waste should be moistened uniformly to where just a few drops of water are squeezed from a fistful of plant material. Add water after every few layers of material.
Mixing in grass clippings does speed things up a little.
Brown material provides carbon for your compost. Green material provides the nitrogen, and the water moistens help break down the organic matter.
Composting is effective on most yard wastes such as leaves, vegetable and flower plant parts, straw, and a limited amount of woody pruning’s, grass clippings and weeds. By composting, we can reduce the garbage we needlessly send to the landfills for disposal.