For those who are into organic food as well as organic farming, I don’t have to explain a lot. However, as the word “organic” starts to emerge on various blogs, discussions related to health and in everyday social media, many get interested in learning more about what it actually means. Composting, eco-friendly waste management and related topics are heavily searched on the Internet nowadays. So what exactly composting means?
Compost is basically decomposed organic matter which is used for fertilizing and as soil amendment. It plays a key role in organic farming.
In order to make compost, you need a pile of wet(ted) organic matter, such as food left over or leaves, better known as the green waste. It eventually breaks down to humus, which we all know contains rich nutrients and is heavily used in planting as well as farming. If you like to know how your food was grown and are into healthy dieting, plus you’d like to save a couple of bucks (on store fertilizers) and you’re also interested in reusing waste and managing it in an environmentally friendly way, keep on reading! Making your very own “black gold” can be done in two ways, none of which is complicated. These are the cold and the hot composting.
Cold composting means that you will collect your organic trash, such as fruit or vegetable peels, eggshells, and/ or yard waste, and gather it in a pile or put it in a bin if you have one for this use. It will decompose over time, usually around a year or so.
Hot composting is a bit more complex, but you also get your compost made faster – in a couple of months. You need four ingredients for this process: air, water, nitrogen and carbon. Combined together, they speed up the process of decaying by feeding microorganisms that are responsible for the process itself.
First of all, wait until you have enough material that will go into your compost (at least 3 feet deep). Make sure you have both green (grass, leaves, kitchen leftovers, coffee beans and similar) and brown (shredded paper, dry leaves, untreated sawdust) materials. Damp your future compost pile with water regularly – don’t let it dry out, but don’t over soak it either, you don’t want it to rot. It should have a consistency of a wet sponge. Monitoring temperature periodically with a thermometer or reaching into the middle of the pile with hand for those less squeamish is important. The temperature rises during the decomposing process and this way you can check if the process is still ongoing.
Providing oxygen is an important part of composting, and you manage this by stirring and turning your pile every now and then. This way your compost will cook faster and you also prevent less pleasant smells from developing. When the pile becomes brown, crumbly, dried and no longer gives off heat, you know it is fully cooked and ready to use. You should avoid some ingredients when composting. Do not use food leftovers that contain meat, oil, grease or fat, and also avoid pet feces, dairy products, treated wood chips and diseased plants.
The beauty of composting is that you made it yourself and you know what went into it. Reusing materials you never thought you would such as waste is another massive plus. It’s not time-consuming, it saves you some money and gives you a sense of accomplishment, knowing that you’ve done something useful – gave back to nature. Every garden can look like a botanical one with composting – even in the middle of a concrete jungle of a city.