This is our third year of project compost. Over three years ago, my husband and I made another commitment to help our planet. We already recycled, used Eco friendly cleaning products, and went the Earth-friendly route as often as possible, and each year we’ve made a life style change that would benefit planet earth. As I said, three years ago, we started composting, and it has been one of the easiest save-the-planet projects we’ve embarked on.
What is compost?
Also known as Black Gold, compost, in short, is one of nature’s best mulches and soil amendments. An earth-friendly gardener will strive to use compost instead of commercial fertilizers.
Compost takes a huge amount of material, up to 75%, out of the solid waste stream.
Obviously, if you’re composting, whatever you’re putting in your compost bin is not ending up in a landfill. When my family first starting composting, we noticed the amount of trash we produced decreased drastically. Between recycling and composting, ovn average our family of four puts out about two bags of trash per week. I recently read an article about a family who only produced enough trash during the past year to fill up a large mason jar. Now that’s impressive. With that in mour town two trash bags per week seems excessive, but there was a point in time we produced more, so I’m proud of where we’re at now. maybe this year we can cut down to just one bag per week.
Aside from reduwaste the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill where it will sit producig methane gas (said to be the most harmfuloff the greenhouse gases), there are many other benefits to composting.
Just a few benefits…
- When used as a soil mulch, composting can actually help lower your water bill! Seasonal additions of compost (for example, Spring and Fall) protects exposed soils from drying out. The soil retains moisture beneath top-dressings of compost and this means less watering! I hardly watered my vegetable garden last summer (and it was hot), but my soil stayed moist throughout the growing season.
- Because of the high nutrient content, compost reduces soil diseases. Less soil diseases equals healthy plants, right?
- Compost returns nutrients to the soil such as phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and many trace minerals, all to be released slowly over 1-2 years for optimal plant growth & health. I can’t tell you what a healthy garden I had last year. Last years garden had almost exclusively soil from our compost bin. My tomatoes were gigantic, and I had more swiss chard then I knew what to do with. And, with such a rich soil additive, who needs chemical based fertilizers?
- Compost can reduce chemical pesticides since it contains beneficial microorganisms that may protect plants from diseases and pests.
Composting is easy
Especially once you get the hang of it. First, decide your method. Continuous or batch composting?
Continuous composting is a technique that works best if you have a steady stream of new material to work with. If you’re composting the scraps from your household, this is probably the system you’ll want to use. You can start with a small amount of compost and a handful of soil (or compost starter). Then, as you get extra ingredients, just add them to the mix. The compost will blend together — fresh ingredients will blend with more mature compost that’s at an advanced stage of decomposition.
As your compost bin starts to fill up, you’ll just want to stop adding to it for the last few weeks while you keep mixing up the materials so that the newest materials can finish breaking down too. Alternatively, you can sift out the unfinished materials with a compost screen, and throw them back into the pile or the bin to finish up.
The other method is called batch composting. If you have a large amount of organic waste (such as a pile of leaves or several bags of yard clippings) it can be enough to fill up your entire compost bin all at once. As the compost decomposes, this pile of compost will gradually shrink. Finished compost often takes up about 30 to 50 percent less space space than the original ingredients. It can be tempting to add additional materials to the batch as it starts to shrink and turn into compost, but if you add additional waste, the entire pile of compost will take longer to finish.
We do a combo of both. Throughout fall and winter, we go more with the continuous method until spring rolls around, at which point we use all of the compost in our gardens. Then, throughout spring, we do more of the batch method. As we landscape and pull out the dead plants, trim plants, start mowing the grass, etc, and usually will have one week in which all the trimmings from the yard fill the bin back up. As the summer goes on, we transition back to more of the continuous method.
Now, that you have your method, time for the bin. There are so many options, and I’ll be honest. I’m not the person to discuss the details of each type of bin. However, http://www.compostinstructions.com/ has everything you could need to know about composting, choosing bins, what to add to your bin, etc. We opted for the EnviroCycle Compost bin and have been wonderfully pleased.
Next on the save-the-planet agenda, to FINALLY install my Brabantia Rotary Airer Top Spinner Washing Line so that I can go back to hanging my clothes outside to dry.