Composting 101 | The Ultimate Guide To Homemade Organic Compost
On average, Americans throw out about 1.3 pounds of food scraps daily. That equates to around 24% of the waste we Americans produce. You may not think twice about the banana peel or the apple core you throw into the garbage can, but did you know that most of this organic waste we throw out can be broken down and transformed into organic compost packed with nutrients and beneficial bacteria you can add into your home garden?
Benefits of Organic Composting
Creating organic compost is not only a great way to add nutrients back into the soil of your garden, but it’s also a very simple and easy method of doing so. The bacteria occupying the organic materials you supply your compost bin with do all the work of transforming the food scraps various other organic matter into organic compost.
Not only is starting your own compost pile great for your garden, but it’s also great for your wallet. As stated before, about 24% of the waste we throw into the garbage can be composted. With nearly a quarter of your waste out of the trash and into the compost bin, your garbage can will not be filling up as frequently. Therefore, you’ll be replacing the trash bag less often and saving money on trash bags as a byproduct of composting.
Creating your own organic compost also saves you the time and money needed to go and purchase special fertilizers to add to your garden. Compost is packed with micronutrients and bacteria that are highly beneficial to the plants within your garden.
With organic composting, you can say goodbye to those expensive fertilizers and soil amenities, and hello to a nutrient rich and organic compost that’s absolutely free and made entirely in your own backyard.
Because organic compost relies on much of the waste you usually would put into the garbage can, you in turn, reduce the amount of waste you produce.
If everyone were to start their own compost pile, this would have a remarkable effect on the environment. Landfills would not fill up as fast and the need for special chemicals and fertilizers produced by factories will also be reduced. Organic composting is easy and highly effective way of saving the environment.
Starting your own Organic Compost Pile
The best time to start your own organic compost pile is right now. The earlier you start, the greater the benefits of organic composting will have on your garden, your wallet and the environment. That being said, how do you begin composting?
Setting up a compost pile is pretty simple. All you really need is a vessel to contain your compost in and an area to put said vessel. There are many types of compost bins and containers out there to choose from. Selecting your ideal compost bin all just depends what works best for you and how much you will be composting. Below are few of the main types of compost bins that gardeners utilize.
The Basic Compost Bin
The Standard Compost bin is pretty much just a plastic or metal compost bin with a lid. They come in different sizes depending on how much compost you are making. You simply just add the composting contents into the bin and turn/mix them every once and a while. While they work just fine and you will eventually get compost from them, it may take longer to get compost from a standard bin compared to the other types of compost vessels available for sale. For best results, you want to find one that allows air to circulate throughout the bin.
The compost bin featured in the image above is a prime example of an excellent basic composting bin. Made from recycled Plastic, this composting bin can store up to 110 gallons (420 L) of organic material. Its sturdy walls help keep the compost in place, while the vents on the side walls help keep the compost aerated for a faster decomposition. The top of the bin also opens up to allow for an ultra-easy deposit of organic material. In addition, there is a door at the bottom that slides up for easy withdrawal of the finished compost. Overall, a great composting bin for any gardener.
Click here to purchase this Compost Bin:
The Compost Tumbler
The compost tumbler features a cylinder shaped container that rotates via an axle that is generally turned by a hand crank. Compost Tumblers are generally better than standard bins as they allow you to simply turn and mix the compost with little effort thanks to the rotating axle. It’s also a faster method of breaking down the organic matter into compost. When choosing a compost tumbler, it is important that you find one with a strong crank handle as this is a common flaw many compost tumblers have.
This Compost Tumbler featured in the image above is made by Miracle Gro. It features two chambers that can hold 27.7 gallons each. This gives it a total capacity of 55.4 gallons (105 L). Although its capacity it significantly smaller than the last compost bin, it is able to produce compost at a much faster rate due to its rotating chambers that allow the organic material to break down and therefore decompose at a much faster rate. With a steel base and a sturdy locking mechanism, this tumbler will certainly stand the test of time and help you make compost for years to come.
Click here to purchase the Miracle Gro Compost Tumbler.
Heavy Duty Compost Bin
The heavy duty compost bin is one of the more pricey compost bins out on the market. To make up for this, they are also the largest and highest quality compost containers as well. They typically have insulated walls which keep the compost nice and warm even throughout the winter. Because of this, heavy duty compost bins can create higher quality compost and in less time as well. Some can even create compost in as little as 30 days!
The Jora Composter Tumbler JK270 is a prime example of a heavy duty composter. Coated with Galvanized sheet metal, this compost vessel is not only extremely sturdy, but also rust proof. Its dual chambers hold a total capacity of 70 gallons (264.9 L). Other features include an insulated interior, which keeps the compost nice and warm for faster decomposition and also, small holes on both sides of the vessel ensuring the microbes and bacteria get oxygen. Of course, this compost bin can also rotate using the super sturdy handles mounted to the outside. This allows for a faster breakdown of the materials inside and inevitably, a quality compost made fast.
Click here to buy the Jora Composter JK270
The DIY Compost Container
The Do-it-Yourself Compost bin is for those who want to save money and construct a compost bin of their own. Most homemade compost bins are constructed from wooden pallets. These are great to use for the wall of compost bins because they are sturdy enough to hold the contents in place, and the gaps of the wooden planks on the pallets allow air to circulate throughout the inside of the bin.
When constructing a compost bin out of wooden pallets however, it is import you check the pallet stamp on the pallets. Pallet Stamps should have the letters HT to confirm that it has been heat treated. Refrain from using pallets with the letters MB on them as this represents the pallet was treated with methyl bromide. This is a toxic pesticide that you do not want your compost to be contaminated with.
Starting out Your Organic Compost Pile
Once you have your compost vessel, it’s time to fill it up. Most any organic materials can be composted, but there are some things that you should avoid adding into your bin in order to create a successful organic compost and also to prevent rodents and pests from being attracted to the bin. The following are some common household things that can and can’t be thrown into your compost bin.
Can Be Composted
Small sticks and twigs
Vines and stems from your garden
House Plant Trimmings
Saw Dust (Non treated wood only)
Weeds (Not the flower part)
Manure form Cows, Horses and Chickens
Can NOT be Composted
Cheese and Dairy Products
Paper with Wax Coating
Diseased Plants matter
Items in the Gray Area…
There are some items that fall between the gray area of can be composted and what cannot be composted. The main reason these items fall within this category is because they can be composted, however, they just take significantly longer to breakdown into compost compared to other organic materials. It’s up to you whether or not to add these items into your compost bin but just know that it will take longer to turn into compost. The following items fall within this “neutral zone”
Larger Sticks and branches