A compost bin is a way to embrace Mother Nature and nurture your garden to its fullest.
The best thing about composting is that it is easy! In this article, we will explore composting basics for beginners.
Create nutrient rich compost and reduce your kitchen waste.
Learn the Composting Basics and How to Start
Composting is wholly sustainable and will rapidly make your garden greener. Your plants will thank you, plus you will reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. Getting started composting is easy!
Invest in a Compost Bin
You can buy a compost bin at a garden store or online. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some compost bins are designed for outdoor use, and others you can keep right in your kitchen. The bins are fashioned from a wide assortment of materials such as plastic tubs and wood. Many gardeners do not even use an actual bin to compost but instead opt to maintain a garden compost pile.
We use the Subpod Warm Farm for Composting and have found this a great way of dealing with our household kitchen waste.
Compost is a mix of green garden waste such as vegetable peels, old fruits, coffee grounds, old plants, grass clippings, tea leaves, and more. You also use dry brown matter such as dead leaves, weeds, hay, and dead plants. The green waste is rich in nitrogen, and the brown waste has carbon. Both complement each other to formulate a robust compost that your plants are sure to love.
Most composters use a layer of woody garden refuse at the base of the compost heap to encourage airflow. They then place a layer of green matter and a layer of brown. The layer goes on along with churning.
Many beginning composters do not realize that you can compost other things such as paper bags, paper towel rolls, eggshells, and old cotton clothing. You should add such items in moderation.
One thing to remember when creating compost is never to use cooked food scraps. Cooked foods attract vermin such as mice and rats to the compost bin.
Adding Water to The Compost
The magic elixir that spurs the entire compost process is water. Water activates the compost and makes the ingredients start breaking down and decomposing. Keep the compost bin or pile moist and damp. However, do not soak it. Most commercial compost bins have a lid that helps your compost retain water. Remember to put the lid on the compost bin to accelerate the decomposition.
Air Matters for Composting
Compost requires regularly turning. Commercial compost bins usually have a handle that makes turning the bin a breeze. However, if you go with a compost pile in your backyard, then you will need to use a shovel or pitchfork to turn the compost to allow air to enter. Without air, the compost can turn slimy, which is a process known an anaerobic.
5 Reasons to Embrace Composting
Yes, there are many environmental aspects to composting for beginners, such as sustainability, but there are other reasons why you should choose composting as a must-do garden project.
Why you should compost:
- Free: Why buy costly nutrients and fertilizers for your soil when you have everything you need at your disposal to create an organic-rich soil moisturizer? Make as little or as much as you want. Share with friends!
- Fun for the Whole Family: Yes, composting is fun for the whole family. Kids love the process. Plus, it is highly educational as you teach about decomposition and the nutrients needed by your garden to thrive.
- Household Trash Reduction: Landfills are filling up around the world. Why not reduce your household trash by composting?
- It is Easy: Composting for beginners is easy. All you do is mix a bunch of organic material, keep it moist, sift it occasionally and forget about it. Nature will take its course.
- A Feeling of Fulfillment: When it is time to harvest your robust, crumbly compost and use it in your garden, flowerbeds, and landscape, you will have an incredible feeling of satisfaction over a job well done.
Basic Composting Supplies
Invest in a composter, use a kitchen pail, a rubber tub, or just create a pile in your yard. The compost bin can be as fancy or basic as you desire.
Many people love using earthworks or red wigglers to help speed up their composting process. You can purchase a worm composter or just create a plastic bin. You will add kitchen scraps, organic material, and dried leaves to the worm bin.
The worms will feed off the organic material. After it passes through their digestive tract, the excrement is remarkably rich. Plus, the worms will wiggle through the compost causing natural aeration.
Commercial Composting Tumbler
A commercial composting tumbler is an affordable option that provides you with a handle that you can crank to turn the compost in a tumbler. Turning the compost creates aeration and helps with the decomposition. You can also readily reach the organic compost when you want to use it.
Many commercial composting tumblers have wheels so you can quickly move the device around the garden. You can even open it up to drop the compost directly where you need it the most. A tumbler is excellent because it contains the smell and keeps vermin out of the compost, unlike a compost pile which is wide open and can get smelly.
Things to Compost
Now that you have your composter, it is time to start composting. However, you might be wondering about what you can compost.
Good things to compost include:
- Vegetable and fruit trimmings such as onion skins, apple cores, potato peels, banana peels, lettuce leaves, and more.
- Tea bags
- Coffee grounds
- Grass clippings
- Paper product
- Cotton clothing items
- Wood ash (in moderation)
- Garden waste such as dead leaves
Things not to compost:
- Anything treated with a chemical fertilizer or pesticide
- Weeds and weed seeds
- Diseased plant material such as foliage that might contain fungal spores.
Nothing is completely problem free, and you might run into a few struggles when composting.
- Smell: Composting really does not smell if done right. It has an organic odor that most people find pleasant. Many people describe the fragrance as earthy. If your compost pile smells, then you need to add leaves or grass clippings to correct the smell.
- Space: You will need at least three meters of space to correctly compost. However, you can find smaller composting bins that are very space saving and will function.
- Animals: Yes, animals are often a problem when composting. Racoons and rodents find compost especially attractive. You can purchase an animal resistant bin. Turning your compost frequently will also make it less attractive to critters.
- Heat: Yes, a compost pile does get hot and can pose a small fire danger. Keep it moist and turn it regularly to control heat.
How Long Does Composting Take?
The length of time it takes to compost depends on the organic materials you use. Food scraps decompose faster than sticks or twigs. Tea bags and paper take the longest to compose. Remember, the bottom of the bin composts first so always turns the pile at least once a month to keep the process going smoothly.
Composting Basics – Steps for Beginners
- Start your compost pile in a compost bin or on the bare dirt. If you start the compost on a patch of earth, then earthworms and other beneficial organisms will help to aerate the compost.
- Lay twigs or straw in the composter first. It should be about 12 centimeters deep. The twigs and straw help with aeration and drainage.
- Add compost materials by layering. You will want to alternate between wet and dry items. Lay down wet items like food scraps or tea bags and then lay down dry material like straw, or leaves. Add grass clippings or manure as a valuable nitrogen source.
- Keep the compost moist
- Cover the compost pile with plastic sheeting or wood. If you are using a bin, close the compost bin or tub.
- Turn the compost every few weeks either using a compost tumbler, with a rake, shovel, or by hand. It is imperative that you aerate the pile by turning
- Add new compost material once the compost pile is established. You can mix the new material in when turning the compost pile. Always keep a ready supply of straw and other course material on hand to add to the bin.
Composting for beginners is fun and easy. You can say good-bye to chemical fertilizers and embrace a more natural route. Also, composting is earth-friendly!