Composting has remarkable benefits. Not only is composting good for your garden’s soil, but it takes a huge chunk of garbage out of landfills that would otherwise become part of the waste debris that we throw away every day.
When it comes to learning how to compost, nature is your best teacher because the process has been occurring since the beginning of life on our planet. You see it in the forests, prairies, meadows and even deserts throughout the world.
Making compost is simple if you are willing to allow Nature to rot your leftovers and biodegradable garbage into a composting bin, trench, pit or barrel and let Mother Nature take over. You will be amazed that by adding biodegradable garbage, nature will convert the waste into rich humus.
Compost buffers the soil, neutralizing both acid & alkaline soils, bringing pH levels to the optimum range for nutrient availability to plants. It is a foolproof process because nature will readily correct almost all of your mistakes.
The Right Ingredients for Compost:
Composting is based on a balance rich diet of microorganisms eating nitrogen and carbon-rich foods. It helps bind clusters of soil particles, called aggregates, which provide good soil structure. Such soil is full of tiny air channels and pores that hold air, moisture and nutrients. This diet consists of:
- Very High Nitrogen – C/N less than 10 – Hot Greens
- High Nitrogen – C/N between 10 and 30 – Greens
- High Carbon – C/N between 30 and 80 – Browns
- Very High Carbon – C/N over 80 – Dry Browns
In general, grass, leaves, vegetable and fruit scraps work well. Keep meat and grains out of your compost as it will attract rodents. Wood, such as twigs and chips should be use sparingly as they are bulky and can quickly change the balance of your compost heap.
Water and Compost:
It’s important to have the right amount of water, similar to a wet sponge without it being too soggy because nitrogen-rich waste is already wet, particularly greens at about an 80-85% moisture level. When you add dry, brown carbon-rich material, which has a much lower moisture level, the two mix appropriately, but you still want a thin layer of moisture to cover all of the materials going into the composter. Ideally, the moisture should be about 40-60% water regardless of what is happening in your particular climate so that the breakdown occurs most efficiently.
Aeration of Compost:
All decomposition occurs most effectively in an oxygen rich environment; however as the compost materials settle, the oxygen is squeezed out creating a bogged down mound. A decent flow of air allows the aerobic microbes to thrive, do their job and thereby decomposition will occur faster. You’re striving to have your materials break down cleanly into CO2, H2O, minerals, and humus; otherwise, the process will slow down, and your compost will start to stink like rotten eggs from the Hydrogen Sulfide. To make your decomposition work effectively here is a short list of methods to use:
- Turning Your Compost using Compost Aeration Tools
- Making Air Pockets as You Build
- Use PVC Aeration Pipes
- If your compost is in a barrel, you can roll it
Your Gardens and Compost:
By the time this whole decomposition process has taken place, you will have rich humus fertilizer that your plants will love and amazing blooming gardens.