Compost is a organic material which through ecological process becomes a fertilizer for the ground. Adding compost to the ground enhances the quality of the soil and enriches the soil with nutrients. Making compost takes weeks or even couple of months and it all depends on type of organic material which we put in the composter. First of all, let get familiar with the composter, that is basically a box in which we put organic waste and start composting.
Many people use simple wooden or plastic boxes but composting in them takes months. We recommend buying a composter online because they are specifically designed for this process and composting in them is much quicker and the quality of compost is higher.
Compost loosens clay soils and helps sandy soils retain water. Adding compost improves soil fertility and stimulates healthy root development in plants. The organic matter provided in compost provides food for microorganisms, which keeps the soil in a healthy, balanced condition. Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus will be produced naturally by the feeding of microorganisms, so few if any soil amendments will need to be added.
Carefully select the location for the composter. The reason you should site your bin on soil is that it makes it very easy for beneficial microbes and insects to gain access to the rotting material. It also allows for better aeration and drainage, both important to successful composting. If you’re worried about vermin becoming a problem, adding a wire mesh base to your bin when you set it up can help avoid problems later. To do this you need to dig a shallow hole (approximately 1 inch deep) that is equal to the diameter of your bin. Cut a piece of wire mesh to slightly larger diameter than the base of your bin and place it over the hole. Place your bin on top of both.
If you have a paved backyard it is best if it is possible to remove the paving below the compost bin, then this is the best solution for paved or courtyard gardens but, if not, there are a few things you need to bear in mind. Some liquid might seep out of the bottom of the bin and stain paving both underneath the bin and sometimes around it. If this is likely to be a problem, then you should consider building a small raised bed filled with soil to put your compost bin on. Liquid should be contained within the soil in the raised bed and you can always plant up around the bin to make it a feature. If you are putting your bin onto old paving and staining is not an issue, you will need to introduce the soil-dwelling organisms manually. You can do this by adding a shovelful or two of soil to the bottom of the bin or, better still, get some home compost from a nice mature bin. It may take a little longer for your bin to get started but it will soon be full of life.
You can easily put your bin onto gravel, whether it be in a gravel garden or on a gravel driveway or path. If you have laid a membrane beneath the gravel, you will need to cut a hole or slits in the membrane so that the soil-dwelling organisms can get through. If you are concerned about compost messing up your gravel when you empty the bin, you will need to lay out a plastic sheet to keep the gravel clean when it is time to empty the bin. If you must place your bin on concrete, remember to add a thin layer of soil to get it started. This will help attract worms and other beneficial organisms.
Like any recipe, your compost relies on the right ingredients to make it work. Good things you can compost include vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant prunings and grass cuttings. These are considered “greens.” Greens are quick to rot and they provide important nitrogen and moisture. Other things you can compost include cardboard egg boxes, scrunched up paper and small twigs. These are considered “browns” and are slower to rot. They provide fiber and carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. Crushed eggshells can be included to add useful minerals. Always put ingredients in compost bin in green and brown layers. Make sure your material is cut into a small particle size as smaller particles break down more rapidly
- Tea bags
- Grass cuttings
- Vegetable peelings, salad leaves and fruit scraps
- Old flowers and nettles
- Coffee grounds and filter paper
- Spent bedding plants
- Rhubarb leaves
- Young annual weeds (e.g. chickweed)
- Crushed egg shells
- Egg and cereal boxes
- Corrugated cardboard and paper (scrunched up)
- Toilet and kitchen roll tubes
- Garden prunings
- Twigs and hedge clippings
- Straw and hay
- Bedding from vegetarian pets
- Ashes from wood, paper and lumpwood charcoal
- Sawdust and wood chippings
- Woody clippings
- Cotton threads and string (made from natural fibre)
- Vacuum bag contents
- Old natural fibre clothes (cut into small pieces)
- Tissues, paper towels and napkins
- Shredded confidential documents
- Corn cobs and stalks
Never compost the following items for reasons of health, hygiene and inability to break down: meat and meat scraps; bones; fish and fish bones; plastic or synthetic fibers; oil or fat; pet or human feces (except for manure of herbivorous creatures such as rabbits and horses); weeds that have gone to seed; diseased plants; disposable diapers (nappies); glossy paper or magazines; coal and coke ash and cat litter. Place these items in the normal garbage collection. You should also try to avoid composting bread, pasta, nuts, and cooked food. They don’t break down very easily, become quite slimy, and can hold up the heating, rotting-down process.
Composting organisms require four equally important components to work effectively:
Nitrogen (Green ingredients): supply your pile with nitrogen which grow and reproduce organisms to oxidize the carbon. Every pile needs the green ingredients, but if all you have is green stuff, your pile can turn stinky and mucky. Too much green stuff can lead to a rotting pile instead of a composting pile.
Carbon: (Brown ingredients): supply your pile with carbon for energy (heat). The carbon is very necessary but again, too much has its consequences. If you have a pile with mostly prunings from your hedge and other woody stuff, the pile can take years to break down. It can sit there and linger in your back yard and you may begin to make plans to will your compost to your grandchildren.
Oxygen, for oxidizing the carbon, facilitating the decomposition process. Done by regularly turning the mixture. If your compost becomes starved of oxygen, then it starts to produce greenhouse gases – so it’s important to get air into your compost heap, for example by turning it regularly.
Water: mixture should be moist, but not soaking wet to maintain activity without causing anaerobic conditions.
Many books warn that heaps will not get enough oxygen unless they are turned. This may be true of a heap that’s kept too wet, but most compost heaps aerate themselves as they shrink. Better reasons to turn compost include achieving a good mix of materials, discovering dry pockets in need of moisture, and satisfying your curiosity as to what’s happening in your heap. And, as the composting process advances and the materials become more fragile, turning and mixing breaks them into smaller pieces, which helps push almost-done compost to full maturity.
Patience is an important virtue for composters, because compost matures in its own time. Warm conditions help compost work much faster in summer than in winter. New heaps made in the fall often mature the following summer. In comparison, midsummer compost made from garden and kitchen waste is finished within a few weeks, because many more microorganisms are active in warm weather. Then things slow down again in the fall. Compost shrinks as it rots, and the material in the center and lower sections of most heaps rots faster than the outside. When it’s ready to use, compost has a crumbly texture and a rich, earthy smell. You may still see sticks, roots, and other intact plant parts in otherwise well-rotted compost. These can be plucked or sifted from compost before it is used or stored.
The cycles of compost often do not coincide with prime vegetable-planting times, so plan to harvest and store your compost as each batch matures. Save plastic bags from purchased soil amendments, and use them to store compost until you are ready to use it. When kept in bags or bins for a few weeks, lightly moist compost will continue to cure, making it even better for your soil and plants.
Another way to be sure that you always have ready compost is to maintain several piles so that there is always one that is ready and waiting, one that is in process, and one to which you are adding the latest waste. The timing on these may not be perfectly in sync either, but if you have the space, you may find that having more than one pile is easier than storing compost in bags.