In the past few decades, people are becoming increasingly conscious about quality food and environmental protection. You can do many things to improve the food quality and safety of the environment. Composting is one of the most beneficial ways to enhance your garden. In this article we learn What is compost and how to compost at home.
What is compost
Compost is a cost-effective biofertilizer that supplies almost all essential nutrients to the soil by invigorating and replenishing the food web in soil. Composting referred to as a collection of organic matter followed by its decomposition and recycling as an organic soil amendment and organic fertilizer. Compost is one of the main ingredients for the healthy growth of plants, especially in the culture of organic farming. Well managed compost is naturally balanced and is a nutrient-rich source of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. Additionally, it also serves as a good source of beneficial plant growth-promoting bacteria.
Composting is a sustainable way of using things kept in the refrigerator that won’t be consumed. Therefore, it is the best way to eliminate and recycle waste. You can also keep a separate container in the kitchen, for accumulating the composting materials by using a compost bin. When creating your compost, you must avoid a few things to prevent bad smell and rotten compost.
Things to avoid include:
- Animal feces,
- dairy products
- seeds of weeds
- diseased or infected plant materials
- and anything that contains grease, fat, oil, and meat.
Why Compost ?
Composting dramatically helps to save money that otherwise will be used for purchasing fertilizers and soil conditioners. By proper application of compost, there is no need to apply hazardous synthetic fertilizers in the soil. Chemicals and synthetic fertilizers reduce the quality of your flowers, food or anything you are trying to grow. Currently, the concept of utilizing organic waste for kitchen gardening is increasing. Compost is one of the best sources for restoring the fertility of the soil, reducing any infection caused by pathogens, and disease attack.
Organic Compost can completely replace fertilizers. The application of compost improves soil structure, along with increased microbial activities. Compost also attracts friendly insects and other organisms such as earthworms, which causes suppression of various soil-borne diseases and releases nutrients according to the requirements of crops. Organic gardeners must use compost instead of chemical fertilizers for producing quality food. Organic vegetables are much better for human health and reduce the risks associated with the use of contaminated foods with synthetic chemicals. Compost is a valuable tool for growing organic vegetables.
How to make Compost
Compost is an extraordinary gift from nature that offers multiple benefits for plant growth. One can easily make compost by turning scraps and food waste into black gold, which enriches and feed the garden soil with essential nutrients. There are some misconceptions about making compost at home that it is too messy, smelly, and complicated. But composting done the right way can be odourless and easy.
In the first step, one should add a layer of organic matter and some soil for creating a concoction that will later be turned into humus. A flower garden can be decorated and improved by using compost as a top dressing on the lawn. You can add compost to your veggie garden as well, which will beautify your garden patch and also provide nutrients for your veggies to grow.
To make a hot heap of compost, I recommend you to collect enough material for making at least a 3 ft deep layer. There should be a combination of brown, green, dry, and wet items.
Brown Items Include:
- Fallen Leaves
- Dried Plant Matter
- Shredded Branches of trees
- Shavings of wood etc
Green Items Include :
- Egg Shells
- Grass Clippings
Compost piles should be built by mixing both brown and green materials. If the pile is too smelly and wet, then you can add more brown materials and more aeration. If the compost looks extremely dry and brown, then add more water and green elements.
Watering the Compost Pile
Sprinkle water on the compost pile to ensure a damp sponge consistency. Do not add too much water; otherwise, the health of microorganisms will be negatively affected, and we need those microorganisms to do their job. The application of extra water can cause rotting instead of composting.
Along with controlled watering, it is essential to monitor the temperature of the pile by using a thermometer to ensure proper decomposition. In another way, you can insert your hand to the middle of the compost pile to feel the temperature, but that can be very messy.
Stirring Up of Pile
In the growing seasons, the pile should be provided with enough level of oxygen. For this purpose, the pile should be turned at least once in a week by using the gardening fork. The best time to turn the compost pile is when the pile is warmer or when the reading on temperature is between 130-150 degrees Celsius. The stirring up causes faster decomposition and prevents the rotting of material and development of odor.
Maintenance of Compost Bin
To quickly cook the compost, the compost bin should be regularly checked. You must do these few things to maintain a proper compost bin.
- Mix well and thoroughly when adding new material.
- The materials to be added should be wet, but depending on the conditions, dry material can also be added. A moisture level must be maintained
- The compost should be mixed or turned every week. This will break old and new material and will also eliminate odor
Feeding Garden with Compost
Before harvesting of compost, one should be sure that the process of decomposition is complete; otherwise, the microbes present in compost can start taking nitrogen from the soil, and in this way, plant growth will be negatively affected. You will know your compost is done when you do not feel heat from it anymore and the texture of the compost is crumbly and brown in looks.
When your compost is done, spread a thin layer of compost of about 4-6 inches on your garden soil. It is best done before planting season. Some gardeners also prefer to make compost tea by using the finished compost. It involves steeping of compost in water for some days and straining it, to use as a liquid fertilizer.
We learnt What is compost and how to compost at home now lets look at the benefits of composting for gardens.
Benefits of Composting for Gardens
The addition of compost to the garden enriches the soil with essential nutrients, helps in the retention of moisture, and causes the suppression of plant pests and disease. Additionally, it also supports the population of beneficial microorganisms and macro-organisms in soil by providing favorable conditions for their survival. Compost encourages the growth of useful fungi and bacteria, which significantly helps for breaking organic material for the creation of valuable and stable humus. The application of compost to soil also helps to reduce the emissions of methane from landfills and causes the lowering of carbon footprints.
Environmental Benefits of Composting
Compost is not only good for the plants, but it also improves the health and tilth of the soil. Its use offers multiple environmental benefits. Compost is a sustainable and renewable product, and it provides excellent advantages as compared to the commercial inorganic fertilizers. It provides a right balance of mirconutrients and macronutrients so you can replace any chemical fertilizer. Compost plays a notable role in the improvement of degraded lands and significantly helps to make them useful for plant growth. Incorporation of compost into the soil helps to lock up carbon in organic material and ultimately into the humus that often lasts for decades and centuries.
The most positive aspect of using compost is for reducing the emissions of greenhouse gasses due to anthropogenic activities. The release of nitrogen from compost is not quick, like that from commercial fertilizers, so it has minimum negative impacts on the quality of ground and surface water supplies. Check out my other posts for good gardening information.
If you like my article What is compost and how to compost at home, check out my recommendation for the compost bin you can buy to make compost at home