How to Compost Organic Materials Into Nutritious Plant Soil, Potting Mix or Mulch
To achieve the real benefits of composting depends on how much organic waste you have, how fast you want the results and how much effort you are willing to put into making garden compost. Some people prefer to make their garden compost container from scratch; however, if you do not have the time or simply want an easier solution to make compost, think about purchasing a ready-to-go compost container.
When waste is not composted, it will end up in a landfill or incinerator, neither of which is environmentally-friendly or economical. Due to a lack of oxygen, landfill waste breaks down slowly and releases methane gas and acidic leachate, both of which are bad for the environment.
- Around one-third of landfill space is filled with organic waste from yards and kitchens, materials that could have been composted
- It is estimated garden compost could divert 700 pounds of waste per household per year from the landfill
- Organic materials break down much faster when composted than they do in landfills, which lack sufficient oxygen for proper decomposition
- Garden compost is a nutrient-rich natural soil amendment, eliminating the need for fertilizer in home gardens and potted plants
- Garden compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration
- Composting is cheap, easy, and good for the environment (greenwala.com)
|What to Compost||Items Not Suitable for Composting|
Garden Compost as Plant Soil
To use garden compost in your plant soil, it is imperative that the organic material has completed all of the composting stages before being introduced into the plant soil. Garden compost should be added to plant soil before you begin planting your plants. Apply 1-3 inches of garden compost to the surface of your plant soil and work it down into the soil about 3-4 inches.
Garden Compost as Potting Mix
Once again, organic material must have completed all stages of composting before it is added to the potting mix. Blend your garden compost with your potting mix before adding your plants. Since most potted plants need to be able to drain excess water, make sure the garden compost is mixed thoroughly to allow for drainage.
Garden Compost as Mulch
Possibly the most highly used method of creating compost, mulching is the easiest and fastest way to incorporate composting in your green lifestyle. Simply add the 3-4″ of garden compost to your yard and let it naturally seep into your lawn. You do not need to incorporate the garden compost into the soil. Re-apply your garden compost as needed.
How to Compost
If you don’t want to take the time to create your own garden compost container, find and purchase a Compost Tumbler. Physically, one of the hardest parts of composting is turning the organic material so it breaks down properly, but a Compost Tumbler will do a lot of the work for you. Simply turn the barrel a few times each day and the contents inside are tumbled and aerated to help speed up the composting process. A pronged bar in the middle of the Compost Tumbler breaks up any clumps making the garden compost much easier to turn.
You’re going to want to scout out a location in your garden to place your garden compost container. Look for a spot that gets partial shade from trees and make sure the ground is level. It’s important that the garden compost container gets some shade because too much sun can make the waste dry too quickly. If the compost container gets too much shade, the compost will remain moist, which is why partial shade/sun is important.
Tips for How to Make Compost
After your garden compost container is placed on level ground, you’ll want to prep the material you are going to be adding by cutting it into small pieces. As you add material to the compost container, make sure you take turns adding different types of materials and keep the material airy (don’t press the material together) so good ventilation can flow through the compost.
Add a layer of green waste, which gives your compost nitrogen, and a layer of brown waste (wood material and leaves) to give your compost carbon. A good rule of thumb for adding your layers of material is 2-3 parts brown waste to 1 part green waste. After you’ve added all of your materials, you’re going to want to check on your garden compost from time to time and make sure it has not compacted together. If it has, mix it up.
To make it easier to get your kitchen scraps from home to composter, use a Compost Crock or Stainless Steel Compost Bucket that can collect the green waste right on the counter. Each compost crock is a heavy countertop container in which you collect kitchen scraps for eventual recycling to help you make compost that is fertilizer-rich. No need to run out to the backyard composter after every meal…just lift the lid and drop-in all those veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and green waste you have. The filtered lid keeps it all neat, tidy and odorless. When it’s full, dump it out into your main composter. For even easier clean-up, line your crock or bucket with Biodegradable Compost Crock Liners.
How Long Does it Take to Make Compost?
The ingredients used to make compost, where the garden compost container is set-up and the intended use for the compost all play a factor in when the compost is ready to be used. If it’s too dry, sprinkle it with water. If your garden compost is too wet, add brown material such as wood, newspaper or even junk mail to dry it out.
You know your garden compost is ready when:
- The compost will no longer heat up
- The material that was placed in the compost container should not be discernable
- The compost material will be half of the original size
- The compost smells earthy and not like the material that was placed into the compost container
- The compost should have a dark color and crumble in your hands
Garden compost created in the winter or late fall will take longer to decay then compost created in warm weather months. Creating garden compost by hand is time-consuming and a lot of work, but the rewards on both the environment and on your wallet can be great. By purchasing a compost container, you take much of the work out of creating garden compost, but yet get all of the great rewards that composting can offer.
If you have any ideas on garden compost, what to compost, or how to compost, please let us know by posting in the comment section below.