Composting is the natural process of transforming organic materials such as leaves and food scraps into a valuable fertilizer that can be used to improve soil and plants. Composting simply accelerates the decomposition process by providing the ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms such as worms to carry out their duties. Compost is the decomposed material that results from the preceding process, and it resembles fertile garden soil in appearance. You may wonder if composting is appropriate for you and, if so, what can be composted. This article will explain what composting is, its benefits, and what can and cannot be composted.
The Positive Aspects of Composting
Composting has many wonderful environmental benefits. Continue reading to find out more.
Reduces waste stream
Composting is an excellent method for recycling organic household waste. More than a quarter of what we discard consists of food scraps and garden refuse. Food waste is costly to manage and detrimental to the environment. The average cost of municipal solid waste disposal in the United States is approximately $54 per ton. The United States generates an average of 268 million tons of waste annually. Two-thirds of this waste is unfortunately sent to landfills and incinerators. Composting at home can help divert waste from landfills and transform it into beneficial garden fertilizer.
Reduces Methane Emissions from Landfills
When organic matter decomposes, it is broken down by oxygen-dependent microbes. When biodegradable waste is disposed of in a landfill, it is buried beneath vast quantities of other waste, cutting off the decomposers’ oxygen supply.
During anaerobic decomposition, the garbage is eventually broken down by organisms that can survive without oxygen.
As a result of anaerobic digestion, biogas is produced as a byproduct. This biogas is approximately equal parts methane and carbon dioxide. Both are powerful greenhouse gases, but methane is 28 to 36 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Even though most modern landfills have methane capture systems, they do not capture all of the gas; landfills continue to be the third-largest source of methane emissions in the United States.
Improves Soil Vitality and Decreases Erosion
Compost is an indispensable component of large-scale agricultural systems. Composting provides vegetable gardens with three essential nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In addition, it contains trace amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Composting offers an organic alternative to synthetic fertilizers containing hazardous chemicals and increases soil water retention capacity, productivity, and resilience.
Recycling Saves Water
In the United States, agriculture accounts for approximately 80% of all water consumption. According to research, the addition of organic matter enhances the soil’s ability to retain water. Every 1% increase in soil organic matter increases water storage capacity by 20,000 gallons per acre. Farmers who use compost to promote healthy soil are able to produce greater yields while using less water.
Reduce Individual Food Waste
Since the 1970s, the average American household of four throws away approximately $150 worth of food per month, a 50 percent increase. And according to an NRDC study, fruits and vegetables are among the most discarded items. Food waste can be reduced most effectively by preventing it from occurring in the first place. By organizing your food storage and meals, you can reduce food waste. Obviously, there will always be food waste, such as banana peels and apple cores, but by composting, you can recycle your waste and transform it into a valuable resource for your garden.
Variations on Home Composting
Before asking what can be composted, it is necessary to understand the various types of home composting. Cold and hot composting are the two primary types of home composting. Your composting procedure can be as complex or simple as you desire. Composting can sound intimidating and overwhelming to novices. However, Dumpster Rental Cape Coral is here to help. Numerous factors determine the optimal method for home composting.
- The amount of suitable space you have available and where you live are important considerations.
- How much organic waste you produce.
- The nature of your organic waste, including kitchen and yard waste.
- The quantity of time required for your composting process.
Cold composting degrades organic waste slowly but requires the least labor and maintenance. Anything organic will eventually decompose; cold composting merely allows nature to do its job with minimal human intervention. You need not worry about the ratio of composting materials, regular aeration, or moisture monitoring. Cold composting is ideal if you have little organic waste to compost, little time to tend to the process, and no pressing need for finished compost.
Nevertheless, depending on the cold composting technique employed, it could take between one and two years to produce usable compost. Additionally, cold composting is predominantly anaerobic, meaning that microorganisms that thrive in an oxygen-depleted environment decompose the waste. As a result, cold compost piles may be smellier or wetter than warm piles, in addition to decomposing more slowly.
Hot composting is a faster and more controlled composting method. Maintaining the optimal carbon-nitrogen ratio for decomposing organic waste necessitates careful attention with this technique. It also requires the right proportions of air and water to attract species that thrive in an oxygen-rich atmosphere. Under optimal conditions, the finished compost may be ready in four weeks to one year. If handled properly, the high temperature of the pile will eliminate the majority of weeds, plant diseases, insecticides, and herbicides, as well as any insect larvae and eggs.
Guide to Composting
Four essential elements are required for the growth of organisms that decompose organic waste: nitrogen, carbon, air, and water. Due to the fact that all biodegradable materials contain carbon and varying levels of nitrogen, proper composting is merely a matter of utilizing the correct combination of materials to create the optimal carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and maintaining the correct air and water levels. The optimal carbon-to-nitrogen ratio for a compost pile is 25 to 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. If your compost pile contains an excessive amount of carbon-rich materials, it will be drier and decompose more slowly. Nitrogen-rich materials in excess may result in a compost pile that is slimy, wet, and smelly. However, these problems can be easily remedied by introducing carbon- or nitrogen-rich material as required.
Finish with a thin layer of brown. (You can continue to add materials until the desired height of three feet is reached.) As you layer, if necessary, wet the compost pile. Then, after four days, you may aerate your compost pile or bin by stirring it with a pitchfork or garden fork while monitoring the moisture level constantly.
Size of Compost Bins
A compost container or pile should not exceed a 3-foot cube in volume. It takes a considerable amount of waste to generate a temperature at which organisms can thrive. However, larger heaps are unlikely to allow sufficient air to reach the decomposers in the core and may be more difficult to turn.
Before placing larger food and yard waste particles in your bin or pile, chop them. The smaller the fragments, the faster the breakdown occurs. Avoid including anything thicker than a finger when composting as a rule of thumb. Learn more…
Location of Your Waste Container
A site that is dry and shady is ideal for composting. Avoid storing your compost pile or bin beneath eaves or in low-drainage areas if you live in a rainy climate, as this may cause the compost to become excessively wet. Alternatively, if you live in a sunny area, choose a shady spot for your garden so it doesn’t dry out and you don’t have to water it frequently.
What Can You Compost?
There are numerous items that can be composted. Below is a list of the most common compostable materials.
Composting Outdoor Detritus
Grass clippings are an excellent composting material. However, they must be mixed with other ingredients or you may end up with a slimy, odorous mess. To prevent this, combine grass clippings with dirt or sawdust prior to adding them to the pile. Then, at minimum, spread the grass across the top of the mound.
The carbon content of sawdust, wood chips, sticks and twigs (preferably shredded or chopped), and pine needles is relatively high, but they can all be composted. They will require a great deal of time and/or nitrogen to decompose. Use them sparingly, in thin layers, or in combination with other substances to expose the greatest surface area to air and microbes. Sawdust, like grass clippings, forms thick, anaerobic clumps that resist decomposition; therefore, it should only be added in thin layers to a compost heap.
Composting Household Waste
The majority of food scraps are compostable.
- Fruit and vegetable scraps can be composted.
- All types of grains, including bread, cereal, hamburger buns, and cereal boxes, compost well.
- Coffee and tea grounds are compostable.
- Due to their acidity, condiments such as ketchup, relish, soy sauce, and others should be utilized sparingly in compost piles.
- You can also compost items like nutshells, eggshells, and corncobs.
Increasing the Composting Rate
The optimal temperature for composting is between 120 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit; therefore, anything that raises the temperature will “cook” your compost faster. Here are four concise composting guidelines:
- Large waste should be chopped or shredded to make it easier for bacteria to decompose. Using a lawn mower to run over leaves and other garden debris, for instance, is a simple method for chopping up garden waste. Using scissors to cut paper or cardboard.
- Give your compost heap a substantial meal rather than a few small snacks. Over the course of several days, collect all of your organic waste and combine it into one massive pile. The greater the amount added at once, the hotter the compost will become.
- Put your compost pile in full sunlight. The heat will accelerate the procedure.