Global warming, the evidence is there, the research studies are ongoing, and it should be a concern for everyone. There is awareness that pollution and how we treat our environment does cause damages, damages that can be lessened by steps and measures we are all capable of implementing ourselves. It just boils down to what we are willing to do in an effort to halt and repair the damages to our environment. What better way to jump on the recycling and environmentally conscious bandwagon then to create your own home compost program.
Why should we compost? Well, the studies and surveys that have yielded a reflective view into how wasteful we are should be good enough reason to compost. On average, families throw away approximately 200 pounds worth of organic kitchen wastes in a single year. When you combine this with gardening organics like grass clippings, leaves, and other gardening wastes, we are definitely generating a problem for waste disposal, as well as creating a mountain of waste that can be conquered through a simple at home composting routine. Another reason to compost is one that will offer you the homeowner great savings on fertilizer, because you are making an environmentally safe fertilizer yourself through composting. Also, many towns are starting to refuse to pick up garden wastes or are charging homeowners for pick up, removal, and disposal. If it is going to be good for our environment and if it is going to save you money, it becomes clear that composting is a simple, yet financially sound way to do your part in helping the environment.
How does composting help the environment? When we collect and send our organic wastes to a landfill, it will become compressed beneath all the other trash and waste products that are collected. The organic waste products will not be exposed to air, and lack of air will hinder the decomposition process. Instead of decomposing properly, the organic waste will produce methane gas, and methane gasses are harmful to our environment and contribute to global warming.
Starting your at home composting program is rather simple. All you need is a composting bin, a place to keep it, and the organic waste to fill it. You can purchase a composting bin from most home improvement or gardening stores, or you can be adventurous and make a composting box yourself. Also, if your town has a recycling campaign in place, they may give composting bin for free or for discounted costs. If purchasing a composting bin or going through the trouble of finding one is a deterrent, you can always dig a hole in your yard and create a composting pit.
Once you have bought or made your composting bin or pit, you will need to decide on a proper place to put the bin. Ideally, it is important to consider an area that will yield adequate drainage, exposure to sunlight, and take into account the often foul odor that composting does produce. Properly positioning your compost bin will also add to the quality of the compost you will produce. Do not place your compost bin on concrete for the obvious reason—no access to drainage. Choose a place in your garden that is flat, has nice drainage, and which is a realistic distance from your home so that composting will not seem like another added chore. Also, you want your composting bin to be in a spot that will allow insects, worms, and microorganisms to have free access to the compost. It will be their freedom to come and go as they please that will assist with the degradation of the compost.
Now that you have set up your composting space and area, you need to understand what each item you put into your compost pile will do. This understanding will help you keep your compost pile healthy. Brown items are your dry items, they are rich in carbon, and will consist of wood branches and twigs, dry leaves and grass, pine needles, hay and straw, dried dead clippings from plants, sawdust, egg shells, newspaper, cardboard and shredded paper, and empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Green items are your wet items, they are rich in nitrogen, and will consist of fresh grass clippings, peels from fruits and vegetables, food scraps, weeds, coffee grounds, tea bags, and fresh leaves. You do not want to put foods containing fats, meat products, or human and animal wastes into your compost, because these items will become rancid and toxic to your compost; plus, they will cause the odor of your compost to become extremely unpleasant.
When arranging and maintaining your compost bin or pit, there are some good tips to keep in mind:
Place items such as tree branches and larger items near to the bottom, which will allow for adequate ventilation and air circulation at the base of your compost.
Also, try to alternate the layers of brown and green items. For example, start with a 6 inch layer of brown items, then 4 inches of green items, and so on.
You do not want your compost pile to stack higher than 5 feet, since this will weight down your pile and cause the air at the bottom to push out and hinder decomposition.
Keeping your compost pile moist is essential to healthy composting, but you do not want to over saturate and make the pile soggy. Just dampen each layer as you add them to your compost pile.
After you have done compost maintenance and care or have added a new layer, your compost lid should be kept closed. If you are using a composting pit or pile, you will want to keep it covered with soil.
Every other week, the compost will need to be mixed and turned to allow proper air flow. At this time, you can dampen your compost and check the progress.
If you have new food scraps to add to your compost, you may want to bury them inside the pile every so often instead of layering it. This will encourage and maintain microbial action, which is necessary for healthy and hearty composting end results.
Odor from your composting can be a concern. If your pile starts to smell a bit too ripe for your liking, you can add more brown items and fluff up your compost a bit.
You will know when your compost is ready for use because it will have a healthy aromatic earthy smell and it will be a rich black color. On average, this process can take 3 months for a person who is taking a more managed approach to composting. For someone only looking to initiate a more green way to dispose of kitchen and household waste, it can take anywhere from 6 months to a year before you see the end results. Once it is ready, you will reap the rewards of a quality nutrient fertilizer you can use in your own garden, or share with neighbors and friends.
Composting is definitely a simple way to do your part in becoming more environmentally conscious and conservative. It is an efficient way to reuse our wastes, lessen environmental damages, and save money.