Composting 101 — Start Composting Today!
EAT, COMPOST, REGROW, REPEAT!!!
The human species is creating the most amount of waste on planet Earth, in fact, food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 28 percent of what we throw away. This is not good as this waste ends up in landfills where they take up space and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead, each one of us should be composting our food waste as it will turn our waste into black gold that has enormous benefits in Gardening. Compost is the most important pack of nutrients you can give your plants. Composting is very helpful for the environment and for us too.
What is Compost?
Compost is an organic matter obtained by the fermentation process of organic material(food scraps, and garden waste) in the presence of microorganisms (bacteria and fungi). This natural process is known as composting. It is a valuable and nutrient-rich food for the garden. Gardners use this compost to improve soil quality and physical properties for the growth of the new crops.
The composting process involves four major ingredients:
Brown material i.e dead leaves, shoots, wood pieces, etc. It provides carbon to the compost
Green material i.e food scraps,eggshells,tea bags,coffee filters,cardboard. It supplies nitrogen to the compost
Moisture is an essential part of composting. It can be balanced by adding water to the appropriate quantity
Oxygen is required for the breakdown of organic material by bacteria
Bacteria and fungi
These are the most important components of the composting process because they decompose the material into compost. During this process, a lot of heat is generated in the center of the pile
NOTE: Regular turning of material is needed to ensure the proper moisture and oxygen levels.
Need of composting
- It does not require any chemical fertilizers, so it’s FREE
- Provides moisture to the soil, less water is needed for plants
- Rain does not wash away the soil nutrients
Soil quality improve
- It improves the physical quality of soil by adding nutrients to it
- Compost acts as a natural fertilizer for plant growth
- Compost has water retention capability i.e to hold the moisture within the soil
Reduction in environmental impact
- It reduces the emission of greenhouse gases from waste transportation.
- Reduce the use of chemical fertilizers which ultimately runoff to rivers and sea.
- Anaerobic decomposition of household waste in dumping ground produces methane which is more harmful than carbon dioxide.
Types of composting
1. Aerobic composting
Aerobic composting uses oxygen and bacteria for the acceleration of natural decomposition. All types of organic waste can be used to have high nitrogen. Plant matter such as grass clippings and leaves encourage a type of bacteria to grow that produces high temperatures, up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Some factors about aerobic composting to be considered:
- High Maintenance
- Controlled moisture and the temperature is needed
- Turning of soil is required for the proper circulation of air
- Good for outdoors
2. In-vessel composting
In-vessel composting comprises dumping organic material with an equal proportion of brown and greens into a container like a drum, silo, or concrete-lined trench where the moisture and temperature are internally controlled.
- The proper turning of organic material is needed to maintain aeration
- Comparatively, this method is more efficient and compact
- Any type of organic waste can be used with In-vessel composting
- It can be used indoors and outdoors
- Low maintenance due to its automation
- NO issue of odor, leachate
- In-vessel composters take very less time for decomposition i.e 24 hours to as long as a few weeks. Very short in comparison to others
3. Windrow composting
Windrow composting employs long piles of organic material known as “windrows” and air supply is controlled by turning the pile periodically. Windrow composting is good for generating a good amount of heat and maintaining temperature.
- Needs high maintenance
- This method of composting can be used for high volume food-processing
- This process results best outdoors and in a variety of climate conditions
- Leachate is released from this process and needs to be collected and treated to prevent contamination of groundwater and surface water
- Heavy odors and animal issues
Vermicomposting uses worms, oxygen, and moisture to safely break down organic material. Major work is done by worms with some bacteria reaction. Red worms are favorites for this type of composting.
- Very little odor (it should smell “earthy”)
- Very little, if any, dangerous anaerobic bacteria and methane
- No need for turning the soil frequently
- No space restrictions can be done indoors or outdoors
- Needs a composter and worms for the decomposition
- Little costly in comparison to others
- Good choice for apartment holders
Top 10 Benefits of Composting
- Composting reduces landfill waste
- Organic matter obtained by composting neutralizes the acidity of soil and enrich the nutrients
- It averts the pest and prevents the use of pesticides
- It promotes biodiversity and ecosystem
- It helps in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases
- Production of crops can be increased by composting
- Compost can help in lowering carbon footprints
- Compost enhances water retention and prevents soil erosion
- Helps in eliminating heavy metals from groundwater and soil