What Is Composting?
Composting is taking nature’s help to break up and recycle biodegradable material into different elements that can be used to nurture plant growth. However, knowing the various factors that affect composting can greatly facilitate the process. Composting is a natural process that occurs in nature all the time. Several worms, organisms, and microorganisms contribute to the process. Some of these are actinomycetes, fungi as well as bacteria. Facilitated by these, composting occurs much more rapidly than it happens in a natural way. Besides this, the right level of heat, oxygen, and moisture can speed up the process of food waste composting.
A detailed video on Beginners Guide to Composting.
How Composting Works?
It’s critical to comprehend how composting functions if you’re interested in learning how to get started. To better understand composting, let’s examine what goes into it:
For organisms that decompose organic waste to survive and flourish, they require four crucial elements. These are carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and water. Since all compostable materials include carbon and different amounts of nitrogen, the secret to creating high-quality compost is to employ the perfect combination of materials to achieve the ideal carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and to retain the proper level of air and water. If your pile is overly carbon-rich, it will get drier and take longer to decompose.
A compost pile is more likely to be slimy, wet, and stinky if it contains an excessive amount of nitrogen-rich material. Fortunately, by correctly adding carbon- or nitrogen-rich material, these problems can be promptly resolved.
The growth and reproduction of both plants and animals depend on the presence of nitrogen, one of the essential components of life. Fresh organic material, also known as “greens,” frequently has a greater nitrogen-to-carbon ratio. The organisms that break down the organic matter will be able to thrive and multiply more quickly if your compost pile contains a lot of greens. You can add household greens like freshly cut grass, food scraps, and coffee grounds to your home compost pile.
Another element that is essential to all life forms is carbon, which is more abundant in brown plant matter. Decomposers use carbon as a food source to stay alive while breaking down organic stuff. Common browns that can be added to a compost pile are dead leaves, branches, twigs, and paper. Adding two to four parts of brown materials for each part of green materials will help your home compost reach the ideal carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.
Oxygen and Water
Finally, decomposers need oxygen and water to survive, just like all other living organisms. To promote a quicker home composting process, make sure your compost system contains the appropriate amount of air and water. You don’t have to keep your garbage if you’re not in a rush for the finished compost. Even though it will happen much more slowly, decomposition will nonetheless happen. The optimal airflow can be achieved by stacking the materials, ensuring sure they are compact, turning the piles frequently, or including an additional aeration system.
A damp sponge would be an appropriate comparison for the recommended moisture level for a home compost pile. If not, just add some water to keep the moisture level up unless you are adding food waste to your pile, in which case it probably already has enough moisture level.
When the ratios of greens, browns, air, and water are ideal for the development of aerobic organisms, hot composting occurs. When aerobic bacteria and microorganisms are actively breaking down garbage and reproducing, the temperature for aerobic composting is between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Any remaining germs or weed seeds are also destroyed by this high temperature.
Aeration encourages an aerobic environment, which speeds up composting and lessens odors. You should rotate your pile (or tumbler) once per week in the summer. You should carry this at least once every three to four weeks during the winter. For the air to flow more freely on its own, you can also add pipes or large sticks.
Your pile should always feel like a damp, wrung-out sponge because composting needs moisture. It is too damp if water drips out as you squeeze it in your hands.
An overly dry pile could slow down the composting process. Too much moisture in a pile could create an anaerobic environment, which would slow down decomposition and also create an unpleasant stench. Add more wet materials or water your pile if it becomes too dry. If it becomes too wet, add carbon-rich browns.
What Are the Benefits Of Composting?
The biggest benefit of composting is that it helps to reduce and reuse food wastage. This also means that we send less waste to landfills and save precious land. Degeneration of food in landfills releases methane into the environment. Moreover, the compost generated can be used as a natural fertilizer for organic farming keeping produce free of chemicals.
Food consists of various materials which may compost faster than others. Besides this, some items may give out a particular kind of odor which may be unbearable. Meat, bones, and dairy products take longer to decompose and give out an objectionable smell. On the other hand, vegetable scraps, cores, peels, grains whether they are cooked or raw, stale bread, used tea leaves, and coffee grounds will decompose much faster. One can also put in eggshells and corn cobs though this will take more time to decompose than vegetables.
Related Read: How to Reduce Food Waste in Restaurant
An easier and more practical method is the use of food composters that can handle large volumes of food waste and do not need constant monitoring. The ECOVIM Food Composter by Compactor Management Company does not use any kind of chemicals, enzymes, or water and turns food waste into a dry bio-mass and potable water that can be reused. The separated water comes out of a separate outlet and is fit for human use. One can also add 10 to 15% of paper and cardboard that is free of coating. The biomass that it produces is odorless and free of microbes. Available in different capacities it can be an effective composting method for both households as well as commercial establishments.
What Are the Problems With Composting?
Composting needs a lot of management and if it is done in the open may attract rodents and scavengers, not to mention the nasty smell. All this creates a challenge for maintaining hygienic conditions. If the volume of waste food to compost is quite high, then several other factors also come into play. The most obvious are storage space, transportation costs, sorting of different kinds of food waste to be composted, and so on.
What Can Be Composted and What Can’t Be Composted in Your Backyard?
How to Compost at Home?
Here’s a step-by-step guide to start composting at home.
Choose a composting method:
There are different methods of composting, including traditional composting, vermicomposting (using worms), and bokashi composting. Choose a method that suits your needs and space.
Select a compost bin or location:
If you have a backyard, you can create a compost pile on the ground. Alternatively, you can use a compost bin, which can be purchased or made at home. Choose a location that is easily accessible but away from your living spaces.
Collect organic waste:
Collect all your organic waste, including fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, leaves, and grass clippings. Avoid meat, dairy, and oily foods as they attract pests and take longer to decompose.
Add carbon-rich material:
To create a good balance, add dry leaves, twigs, and shredded newspaper to your compost pile.
Layer and mix:
Layer the organic waste and carbon-rich material in your compost bin, mixing them thoroughly. Keep the pile moist, but not too wet.
Turn the compost:
To speed up the composting process, turn the compost pile every week or two. This helps to mix the materials and provide oxygen to the microorganisms that break down the waste.
Wait for the compost to mature:
Depending on the method and conditions, compost can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to mature. You will know it’s ready when it’s dark brown, crumbly, and smells earthy.
Use the compost:
Once the compost is mature, use it to enrich your soil, feed your plants, and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.
Remember, composting is a continuous process, and it takes time and patience to get it right. Keep at it, and soon you’ll be turning your organic waste into a valuable resource for your garden.
Compactor Management Company (former Northern California Compactors, Inc.) offers installation and support services for waste recycling equipment such as waste compactors, balers, shredders & conveyor systems. Established in 1981, it offers waste management solutions across the United States.