man dumping compost scraps into large green compost bin

Composting Basics: Answering what, why and how

composting

Composting and vermicomposting are closely related, so if you’re practicing the latter, it’s probably worth looking into the former, because the two have a lot in common and can have a symbiotic relationship.

In this blog, we want to discuss composting and go over its basics, so by the end of the blog you know what the process is, its benefits, and how you can go about starting your own compost bin (or heap).


What is composting?

Composting is the process of turning vegetable matter and manure into compost. Compost, in turn, is defined as a mixture of ingredients used to fertilize and improve the soil.

So in simpler words, compost is organic fertilizer made from home and garden waste, and composting is the process of making this fertilizer via natural processes.


The benefits of composting

There are several benefits of composting, and applying compost. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Makes use of waste material from your garden
  • Creates a safe space for little critters to live in
  • Increases the productivity of your garden
  • Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi
  • Reduces your dependence on fertilizers while improving crop yield
  • Enriches soil and helps in moisture retention
  • Helps suppress weeds, pests and plant diseases

Composting basics: How to compost at home

compost heap

Composting is fairly simple. Of course, you can complicate it and use special techniques and methods to speed up the process, but in a nutshell, it’s just layering greens and browns, and keeping the pile or bin aerated and watered till all the material rots down. This should take about a year.

Greens include things like vegetable scraps, grass clippings, plant trimmings, and manure, whereas browns include things like paper, cardboard, hay, dead leaves and twigs.

You can compost most kitchen and garden waste (except perhaps for cooked food, dairy and meat – to keep your pile clean and vermin-free), but you do need to be careful about the ratio you put the things in. You should usually aim for your browns to outweigh the greens, because an excess of greens will make for a soppy, wet, stinking pile. Layer browns and greens, and give it some compost accelerator like worm tea or urine, and you’re good to go!

Once every couple months, you should go in there with a shovel and turn over the pile so the contents are mixed up, and the pile is aerated.

While many people prefer a closed compost bin, an open pile is the simplest and perhaps most efficient way to go about it, because you don’t need a bin, and the compost materials are exposed to the elements which makes sure they are watered, and that worms and other helpful critters can find their way into the pile.


Using your homemade compost

compost

In about a year’s time, your pile should shrink down significantly, and the composting materials should turn into a fine, soil-like substance that smells sweet and earthy. Your compost is now ready to use! You can use it as top dressing, as mulch, or as potting soil. Give your plants an inch-thick layer of compost once a year, and they will thrive.