Composting is the natural decomposition of weeds, manure and other yard waste, fruit and vegetables. The breakdown of these organic materials produces compost which can be made into fertilizer to enrich soil. By composting we do not only help conserve our environment by reducing the amount of garbage sent to landfills, we also help promote healthier soil where we can grow healthy flowers or fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and herbs.
There are many ways to compost. Some make bins from recycled materials or buy one at the store. Others go binless, by digging a hole directly on the ground. But there are some basic composting dos and don’ts.
Compost is full of microbes or those tiny little things like fungi and bacteria that eat the compost materials and break them down. And since microbes are living organisms, they need air to breath. Unaired compost heaps smell like rotting garbage, this is due to slow decomposition. So make sure that your compost heap has a lot of air passage ways.
Compost also need water. Your compost heap should be moist in order to let your microbes spread faster. Ideally, a compost heap should be as moist as a “wrung sponge”. Too dry and your compost heap decomposes slowly, again leading to the garbage smell.
Your microbes also need to eat. So make sure they have a supply of “browns” and “greens”. Browns are fallen leaves, straw, wood chips and the like. Greens are vegetable scraps, kitchen fruit, green leaves, ground coffee beans and tea bags. Make sure to moisten the browns before putting them in the heap. A balance between browns and greens is essential to make your compost moist.
Of course there are stuff that should not go to the compost bin. Chemically treated wood contain arsenic which is bad for the environment should be excluded. Human and pet wastes contain diseases which can infect humans.
These wastes can be composted but it is not safe for backyards. Stubborn weeds like Morning Glory, Ivy and bindweed can resprout from their shoots or stems and might grow on compost heaps. Meat, bones and other fatty food wastes attract pests like rats and should be disposed in a different manner.
Composting takes around 3-4 months. There are other ways to speed up the composting process like adding worms and fungus like Tricho which can shorten the composting period to 3-4 weeks. Finished compost smells like soil and is brown, moist and crumbly. You can add it to your garden soil, lawn or potted plants.