A beginner's guide to composting at home
August 26, 2019 | by QualicoCommunities
You’ve probably heard of composting before but aren’t sure what it is or how to go about it. Although there are tons of misconceptions out there about its complexity, smell and the amount of effort it requires, composting can actually be an easy mess-free activity. If you’re thinking of starting your own at-home compost pile, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered everything beginners need to know about composting.
Composting is nature’s way of recycling. When organic materials like food scraps and yard waste decay, it forms compost. Composting is the act of mixing these organic materials in a pile so they can break down and form a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be used in your garden to help plants grow.
Composting comes with a ton of benefits. Some of them include:
When food waste goes to landfills, it doesn’t decay properly and produces methane, a greenhouse gas. Since composting keeps food waste out of landfills and allows it to decay, it reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the environment. Thus, reducing your carbon footprint.
Composting helps create an organic, nutrient-rich fertilizer which is an excellent replacement for its chemical counterpart. You can spread compost on your lawn, in your garden or on potted plants to help them grow.
The first step to successfully composting at home is finding the perfect location. When looking for the ideal spot, choose a convenient place that is flat, well-drained and sunny. Putting your compost in the sun will increase the temperature and help it decompose faster. However, your location should also have good airflow to keep your compost pile from getting too hot.
Although a compost bin isn’t a necessity, we suggest you use one to keep things neat and preserve the heat in your compost pile. Also, bins help keep animals out of your compost – which is always helpful. You can either purchase a compost bin from a garden store or make one of your own.
All good composts consist of three main components – greens, browns and water. “Greens” are materials like grass clippings, coffee grounds, fresh plants and food scraps. These materials provide the nitrogen essential for decomposition. “Browns”, on the other hand, include materials like twigs, branches, cardboard, hay, or dead leaves which add much-needed carbon to your compost.
When you’ve got your location, bin, and materials, it's finally time to build your compost pile. For the best results, build your pile by mixing three parts “brown” with one part “green” materials. Start with a layer of browns – like twigs – to allow for drainage and aeration, then add a layer of greens on top. Keep alternating layers with a 3:1 ratio until your bin is full. After this, water your pile until it has the consistency of a damp sponge. Anything wetter than this, and the pile will become waterlogged causing it to rot rather than compost.
Maintenance is an important part of the composting process. You’ll want to check your pile once a week and add fresh materials as needed. If your compost is too wet, add dry materials to the mix. If it’s too dry, add some water to help maintain the right consistency. You should also mix and turn your compost regularly to help with the decomposing process and to eliminate odour.
This is the rewarding part of composting. After four to six months of maintenance and care, your compost should be ready for harvest. The finished compost should end up at the top of the bin. To harvest, simply remove the finished portion of your compost, leaving unfinished materials to continue decomposing. You can then spread your finished compost on your lawn or mix it in your garden bed and watch your plants flourish!
Composting doesn’t have to be a difficult or messy activity. With these easy steps, you’ll be on your way to a successful at-home composting project in no-time!
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