Composting is the recycling of kitchen waste and lawn clippings, by turning them into valuable nutrients that can enhance the soil in the garden or lawn. Composting speeds of the process of breaking down certain organic materials, so they can better provide nutrients to areas where compost is applied.
Composting does not involving creating soil. It relies of left over or unusable organic substances that go the the process of degeneration and then become fertilizer for many gardening and landscaping applications. Soils enriched with compost can better support healthy plant growth and flower bloom.
Prior to starting the composting process, you will need to make several decisions. First, you will need to select a suitable container to hold the materials you plan on composting. You will also need to locate a suitable place to store the bin and decide what you will put in it. No matter what organic materials you put in the compost bin, the overall process of breaking down waste will be the same. Bacteria and fungi are digested by microbes and refined as they become more processed.
When microbes go to work on the composting process, they will require air, water, and energy to get the job done. You will need to supply these substances in the right amounts. This is important in the composting process. If you don’t provide enough air, for instance, the compost container or bin will produce and offensive or foul odor. This can be remedied by adding wood chips or straw, to allow for better ventilation.
The materials in a compost bin will break down without air, but will rely on anaerobic organisms, as opposed to aerobic organisms. The process may take longer. The process can be improved by turning the composting materials to let air in or by adding a substance to encourage breakdown the waste.
Benefits of composting
Composting is an environmentally friendly way of providing additional nutrients to soil. There are no chemical fertilizers to break down and rob the soil of important nutrients. There are no harmful health effects of providing additional nutrients to the soil with compost.
-Provides nutrients to the soil
Composting can provide additional nutrients benefit to the soil. These nutrients can help with plant growth or in producing healthier, fuller blooms on flowers. Vegetable gardens can particularly benefit from soil amended with compost.
-Reduce the amount of kitchen waste going into trash bins
You can greatly reduce kitchen waste going into trash bins, by composting. Items like tea bags, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, and similar items are suitable for composting. You may also be able to add saw dust, wood shavings, and paper, if they have not been treated with chemicals that are toxic.
Challenges of composting
-Despite common beliefs, not all kitchen waste can be composted. Meat, bones, fat, and oil should not be composted, as it can attract unwanted wild animals. Dog and cat litter should also be avoided, due to the possibility of parasites and diseases.
-Composting on a large scale can be difficult, if you don’t have a foolproof way of dealing with the possible odors. Odor control may be essential for those with neighbors living nearby. You don’t want to upset the neighbors simply because you’re trying to do something good for the environment.
How to compost
As mentioned above, composting begins by selecting an appropriate container. If you want to keep it outdoors, consider one of the ready made compost bins available in stores and garden centers. These products are already designed to allow air in, while providing a means of spinning or turning the contents frequently.
If you don’t have the budget for a commercially available compost bin, you can make one with an old plastic barrel or garbage can. You will need to build a wood or metal frame and insert a pole through the center, running through two sides, so it can be turned occasionally for better air flow.
Another inexpensive way to start composting is to put three or more plastic milk crates together, while lining the insides and especially the holes, with thin wire netting or landscape fabric. Such a compost bin allows for plenty of air flow, while containing the compost for future use.
Some gardeners have built compost bins out of wood pallets. This should only be done if you’re sure the pallets have not been chemically treated. Food grade barrels that have been completely washed and come with lids also make great compost bins. They can be turned on their sides or stood upright, to move the contents around and improve air flow. Small holes can also be drilled in the sides for air flow as well.
Some people keep food items for composting indoors, until they have enough to take out to the compost bin. Using an old milk carton or coffee can will provide a container that can be sealed, to keep odors in the kitchen down. Old cookie jars or similar containers are more decorative and can be kept on the counter top without detracting from the overall decor.
There are many reasons to consider composting leftover food items. It can provide healthier nutrients to gardens and planting beds. It can help reduce the amount of waste thrown in trash bins. By considering the benefits and challenges, you can plan for a sound composting practice and find the right container to composting.
Composting provides beneficial nutrients to outdoor gardens and lawns. It is a better alternative than adding chemical fertilizers. Successful compost projects require knowing what should and should not be placed in compost bins, as well as finding the right containers to serve as compost bins. Though much plant material can be used in composting, weeds and diseased plants should never be used, as they can cause disease. Composting can be a simple process that requires little effort and a small amount of planning.