After along winter, people begin to think about sunny days and outdoor activities which may include working in a garden. In addition to thinking about what you want to grow, have you thought about composting?
Composting is the practice of combining organic materials that are broken down by microorganisms to produce a soil-like substance that gives valuable nutrients back to your soil.
There are many benefits of composting at home. Composting is a natural way to replenish your soil’s nutrients rather than to purchase expensive, store bought chemical fertilizers. Adding compost to your garden means you don’t have to water as often because the compost allows more water to penetrate the soil. Your plants are happier, you spend less time watering, you save money, and another added benefit – composting can also prevent weeds from popping up.
More importantly, there are many environmental benefits of composting. When you compost house hold items, it also means you won’t have as much trash filling uptrash cans. That may not seem significant, but it can reduce the number of trash pickups and with fewer pickups, the garbage trucks burn fewer fossil fuels.
One of the most important benefits of composting at home is it keeps recyclable items out of our land fills. It is estimated that approximately 30% of what we throw away can be composted. By taking almost of third of our trash out of the land fills,we can reduce the amount of man-made methane, which helps lower our carbonfootprint.
The good news is that whether you live on a farm, in a house, or in an apartment, you can begin a DIY composting project. You probably already have most of the items needed to begin composting, both in and outside of the house.
Composting is made up of the rule of three: browns, greens, and water.
The browns are carbon-rich thing such as newspaper, fireplace ash, sawdust, straw or hay,twigs and dead leaves.
Greens are generally kitchen items which add nitrogen including fruit and vegetablescraps, eggshells, nut shells, tea bags, and coffee grounds and filters. Youcan also use grass clippings as part of your greens.
And finally, having the right amount of water will help your browns and greens break down correctly.
There are things you shouldn’t use when composting: Leaves and twigs from a black walnut tree, charcoal ash, dairy products, fats, grease, or oil, meat and fish scraps,and pet waste.
You should strive for your composting ratio to be three parts brown matter to one-part green matter. It doesn’t have to be exact, but this ratio heats up the pile enough to break it down quicker and prevent unpleasant smells. The heat of the pile should be between 90- and 130-degrees Fahrenheit to kill pathogens and weed seeds. Plus, heat speeds up the composting process.
The rule of thumb is to add more greens if you think the compost is not heating to aproper temperature and add more browns if it begins to smell. The materials should always be kept moist, but not watery.
There is really no correct answer to this – it is totally up to you! If you have a large yard, you can compost without a bin (in a shady area), dig a hole (to throw things in), or purchase or build an outdoor composting bin. You can even turn a regular garbage can into a compost bin with just a few alterations which can be found on the internet.
When composting outside, make sure your bottom layer is chopped or coarse material for better air circulation. Added water, then the next layer should be grassclippings and yard waste. Add more water, then follow up with food waste.Finally, add one more layer of yard waste. Turn your pile with a pitchfork after four weeks, add more water, then turn every two to three weeks, adding water each time. Your compost should be ready within one to four months.
Many people like to compost inside because of its convenience. An inside composting bin doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or expensive. You can purchase a bin for as low as $15 or make your own by searching online for instructions.
As with outdoor composting, you should start with a handful of leaves for aircirculation then add some water. Every time you add kitchen items, throw in another handful of leaves and water.
DIY composting is a fun, easy activity that can help your garden and the environment. It’s also a great way to teach kids the environmental benefits of composting.