Composting is the process of decomposing organic materials into fertiliser that can enrich soil and plants. We want to focus on home composting for this post as it’s something we can all get involved in and is very easy to do.
Benefits Of Composting
Composting is a great way to recycle the organic waste at home, saving you a lot of room in your bin. Popping your food scraps into a compost bin diverts tonnes of waste from landfills and big plus, it can be turned into something practical and benefit your garden.
PS. It may get a little bit sciency.
Reduces Methane Gas Emissions From Landfills
When organic matter decomposes it is broken down by microorganisms (aerobic decomposition) that require oxygen. However, when this waste goes to landfill it ends up trapped under mountains of other rubbish, cutting off the regular supply of oxygen. What happens? Well, the matter instead undergoes anaerobic decomposition which produces a biogas that is around 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide.
Improves Soil Health
Compost is a great way to reduce our use of synthetic fertilisers that contain harmful chemicals that is not only bad for the planet but also bad for us. Studies have shown that compost can increase soil’s water retention capacity, productivity and resiliency.
The organisms responsible for decomposition require 4 key elements; air, water, carbon and nitrogen. Composting is using the right combination of materials to find the best ratio of carbon to nitrogen and then maintaining the right amounts of air and water.
The best carbon to nitrogen ratio is 25 to 30 parts carbon for every 1 part nitrogen. Now, it may sound like a lot of work but it’s very straight forward and once you get the hang of it you’re flying!
Sources of Carbon
Higher levels of carbon can be found in brown plant material such as branches, dead leaves, teabags, eggshells and sawdust.
A general rule of thumb for composting is to put in two to four parts brown materials for every one part green material.
Sources of Nitrogen
Greens such as fruit and vegetable scraps, leftover coffee grounds and even grass cuttings.
Oxygen and Water
Air flow can be achieved by layering the materials and ensuring that they are in small pieces. Feel free to add water if you like but chances are the compost pile will already be wet enough.
Location and Bin
We recommend a dry and shady spot. A compost bin is a cheap and easy way to compost at home, they are available at pretty much every DIY store. You can also get creative and make your own bin out of wooden palettes or wine crates.
The ideal temperature for composting is around 54 degrees celsius. The best way to create this is to ensure the correct balance between green material, brown material, air and water.
Turning the pile once a week during the Summer months and once every 3-4 weeks during Winter will help speed up the composting process.
If the pile is too wet it will start to smell and slow down the composting process. It will also slow down if it is too dry, so finding the optimal moisture is essential. If you find the material is becoming too dry, water it and if it becomes too wet, add some carbon heavy material.