Composting is recycling your kitchen waste and lawn trimmings and turning them
into a valuable resource for your garden or houseplants. This is done by speeding up the process that the materials
you use to compost go through on their own – decomposition.
Compost is not soil. It is a common misconception that the end-result of
composting is the dirt that you find in the ground. It is a substance that acts as a fertilizer (enriching the
soil) to grow hardier and healthier plants.
Before you begin composting there are choices to be made – what type of container
and style suits your project, what you will be putting into your compost bin, and the location of your bin. But
regardless of these decisions, how you convert your waste into compost happens the same way. It is a breakdown of
waste materials as they are digested by microbes (bacteria and fungi).
The microbes are the workers of the composting equation. They need air, water, and
food to do their job and it is up to you to supply it to them in the right amounts. If you have heard that having a
compost bin or pile creates a foul odor it is most likely the result of not enough air circulating throughout the
waste material. Without air, the material will still breakdown but it will be done by anaerobic microbes (organisms
that do not need oxygen) as opposed to aerobic (ones that need oxygen). So if you do have an unpleasant smell
coming from your compost bin or pile you can rotate the material to let in more air or add a substance to create
more room for the air to circulate. Wood chips or hay are good for this.
Composting is good for the environment and your garden – it eliminates the amount
of waste you throw away and enriches the soil your plants grow in.
Who Should Compost?
As there are many uses for compost, you will find people with different interests
and occupations utilizing this environmentally friendly resource.
A homeowner can create a compost bin or pile to reduce the amount of trash they
are throwing away. As an added benefit they are creating a fertilizer for
their house plants or garden plot. Since compost bins require green food
(grass clippings) and brown food (organic waste) you can collect your grass
clippings and add them to your bin too.
On a farm, crops can produce a lot of waste. A farmer can use crops that are
not consumable and add them to a compost bin along with manure from any
livestock they may keep. Once the compost matures and is ready, the farmer can
use the material for added nutrients in the soil; build up low spots in his
field; and to keep the soil healthy – mature compost has the ability to
prevent weed seeds from sprouting.
A professional landscaper can create compost material for clients that want only
natural or organic materials used on their lawn or flower beds. This can be a
low-cost material for a landscaper to utilize providing his clients with
Earth-friendly options with a low overhead cost.
If you like the idea of composting but do not have the space or time to create
one, check with your city or municipality’s recycling center. Some will accept your yard waste and clippings for a
city compost heap. This material will then be used throughout the city’s parks and gardens. In certain centers they
may let the residents utilize the mature compost for their own needs
Schools will utilize compost to teach the students the process of decomposition
and to teach children what we can do to help our planet. This is in addition
to the cost savings for the school in up keeping the grounds and