Composting, simply put is the process of which a heap of green matter (leaves/food waste) breaks down to become humus which fuels plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil. With that said, knowing how to compost will not only make your footprint greener, but it's free, its easy, and your plants will love you for it.
Benefits of Composting
#1 The creation of composted material acts as a soil conditioner and not only adds nutrients but helps the soil retain moisture.
#2 Composting can divert as much as 30% of household generated waste from landfills.
#3 It introduces beneficial organisms to the soil that help aerate and breakdown organic material for plant use. As well as, help ward off disease.
#4 It offers a natural alternative from chemical fertilizers.
How to Compost
1. Start your compost pile on bare earth. This allows worms and other beneficial organisms to aerate the compost and be transported to your garden beds.
2. Lay twigs or straw first, a few inches deep. This aids drainage and helps aerate the pile.
3. Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry. Moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Dry materials are straw, leaves, sawdust pellets and wood ashes. If you have wood ashes, sprinkle in thin layers, or they will clump together and be slow to break down.
4. Add manure, green manure ( clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, grass clippings) or any nitrogen source. This activates the compost pile and speeds the process along.
5. Keep compost moist. Water occasionally, or let rain do the job.
6. Cover with anything you have - wood, plastic sheeting, carpet scraps. Covering helps retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered by rain. The compost should be moist, but not soaked and sodden.
7. Turn. Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work, and turning "adds" oxygen. You can skip this step if you have a ready supply of coarse material, like straw.
Once your compost pile is established, add new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aerating the composting materials and speeding the process to completion.
Tips & Tricks
- You can also add garden soil, it will decrease composting time by adding micro-organisms and it will help mask smell.
- Do not compost meat, bones or fish scraps (they will attract pests), perennial weeds (they can be spread with the compost) or diseased plants.
- Do not not include pet manures in compost that will be used on food crops.
- The soil beneath a compost bin becomes enriched as nutrients filter down with successive waterings. You can place your bin on a plot of earth which you plan to use for a future vegetable or flower bed, or fruit tree. Each year, you can move the bin to a different area; you'll get a double benefit - the compost from the bin, and a bed of nutrient-rich soil ready for new plantings.
Source: Earth Easy