We are moving into a world where environmental sustainability is tough to achieve. Things get even worse when we exploit the soil for growing crops to feed the entire globe. Large scale production requirements due to the massive population have forced agribusinesses to use chemicals. Also, we are no stranger to the long term impact of the same.
Amidst all of this hara-kiri, you can turn your backyard into a productive land that can least support some form of green vegetation. At least, you can have a garden with beautiful flowers without wasting money on chemical products.
Importance of composting
Before heading into the importance of composting, allow us to introduce you to the concept of composting.
Composting is a biological process where the organic waste which is generally found in your kitchen is allowed to decompose in a compost bin placed in the upper layer of the soil surface. Here, microbial elements like bacteria and fungus are allowed to break down the waste with the presence of air to create organic manure and fertilizers.
Now, let us look at the importance of composting.
● Soil Conditioner
When you add compost on the top of the soil surface externally, the rich humus-nutrient compost will provide the soil with essential nutrients.
Compost is commonly referred to as black gold, and its ability to replenish Nitrogen and Carbon dioxide levels in the soil justifies the naming convention.
Also, it helps in retaining moisture in the soil, which later helps plants in various functions like photosynthesis.
Addition beneficial organism to soil
When we earlier discussed the composting process, we mentioned the roles of microorganism, after the process is complete, these tiny organisms enriches the soil and keeps the plant diseases away.
● Recycles kitchen and yard waste
Normally, we waste 30% of our food supplies, which is a complete waste until you reuse that 30% of waste, by dumping it into the compost bin. This serves dual purpose first it reuses the perishable food supplies, and second, it removes the bad odor and keeps the house clean.
● Good for the environment
Using organic fertilizers over chemical fertilizer is any day good for the environment. First and foremost, the chemical fertilizer degrades the soil quality and may mix with water streams and cause both soil & water pollution.
Also, these chemicals end up in the food chain creating health hazards. Thus, composting is a sure way to save the environment and our health.
● Reduces Landfills
Most of our organic waste which comes from the kitchen ends up in landfills. It is estimated that one-third of waste that occupies landfills can be transformed into organic manure using composting.
One other important thing is that landfills are fast being closed due to the unavailability of space, they have been maxed out. Thus, it makes sense to approach the composting technique with a bit more seriousness.
Steps to compost
The very first step is to set up your compost pit on the bare earth surface. You can choose to place the compost elsewhere, but with the use of the surface, you expose the organic waste to various types of microorganisms, thus speeding up the process of decay with aeration.
When you prepare a compost pit remember to place twigs and straw first. This helps the aeration level by allowing air to pass through the pile. It even comes in handy to allow drainage.
Make sure that while creating the compost layers, you have the greens which are your kitchen waste, seaweed, and twigs & straws or wooden ashes aka ‘browns’ properly balanced and layered. For instance, if the layer of wooden ashes is not sprinkled judiciously, it will mix with other waste and slow the decomposition process.
You mustn’t rely solely on the microbial agent present in the soil to single-handedly power the decompositions.
Here, you also need to add some form of green manure to expedite the process of decomposition by providing additional source essential nutrients like Nitrogen.
Some of the green manures that you can try include- buckwheat, wheatgrass, clover, and grass clippings.
Keep compost moist
You must regularly keep the compost moist by adding in the water at regular intervals, also you can allow rains to do its job. But remember that you do not push in excess water in the compost.
Cover the compost pit with any of the following materials: plastic sheet, wooden plank, carpet scraps, etc.
Now, with proper covering, the pit receives the right amount of heat and water. The compost pit should receive heat and moisture but only at the right levels. A soaked or dry pit won’t add to the composting benefits.
You must turn the compost pit with a shovel or any other similar equipment. The idea is to aerate the compost and allow fresh oxygen to set in. Also, with turning the pit the mixture between brown and green is realtered, this speeds up the process of decomposition. You can buy a composter, but the DIY fashion of turning the compost should be just fine.
What elements you should not compost?
- First and foremost, you should not compost bones and meats.
- Secondly, composting diseased plants is not a great idea.
- Do not compost black walnut leaves, banana peel, peach peel as it might contain pesticides.
We have covered various aspects of composting in detail. But people often overlook the importance of choosing the best compost bin. A quality compost bin augments the process of conversion of trash to treasure.
Yes, various other factors affect the effectiveness of the composting, but picking the right bin is as crucial as any of the other factors, like the location of the pit or the size of the pit.