DIY: At home composting

DIY: At home composting

DIY Compost

Composting!

What you will need

A box or container to put it in

When selecting or building your box, bin, barrel, or tumbler for your compost, there are a few things to keep in mind;

crate

  • If the box is going to be in place where it can be seen by guests, you might want to opt for a neater version
  • If not, you can go for a cheaper, but just as effective option, that you can even assemble yourself, within a matter of minutes
  • How much waste will you be generating for your compost bin, this will determine the size of the bin you will need
  • How quickly do you want to start using the compost, if you want a bi-weekly, or even a monthly supply, you would want to buy a compost tumbler, that has a lid and an aerator built in, these produce garden ready compost in almost half the time

mesh

Although, if you pile is big enough, you don’t really need a bin, we just pile all our waste onto one pile and move it to another pile once it’s ready to use.

Something to turn or aerate the compost (if your bin or tumbler doesn’t include one)

We just use a garden fork at home, but there is a very fancy tool, called a turning tool or an aerator tool, that you could use as well.

The perfect spot

Again this depends on how quickly you want to turn your waste into compost, the more sun it gets, the hotter the pile is, the quicker the good microbes  can do their job, and the quicker you will start to produce compost. Ours are in direct sunlight for about 75% of the day.

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Balanced ingredients

This is one of the most important tips you should take from this post. Your waste input should be a balance between brown and green, or carbon and nitrogen parts, to be more accurate. In the brown category there will typically be things like dried branches and twigs, shredded newspapers and brown paper bags, wood chips and dried leaves. In the green category would be grass clippings and kitchen waste. If you have more of the one than the other, you could always try to keep the one in a pile next to your compost bin, and add it whenever you get more of the other.

Lastly, you would also need to water your compost pile. This might need some practice to get right. Just try to keep in mind that it should not be too wet, where it gets to the point of being soggy and mushy. But on the other hand, too little water will actually slow down the decomposition process.

Best practice

  • The box or bin should be bottomless, so that the compost is placed directly on the ground. This way not only does that patch of earth get super infused with all the nutrients that soaks into it, but the good microbes from the soil also moves up into your compost, which helps the decomposition along.
  • Your very first layer should be made up of dried branches and twigs, stacked in such a way that it will allow air from the bottom into the rest of your pile.
  • You can now layer your brown and green materials; it is also advised that you add a layer of soil when first starting, to help the process along.
  • It is important that you regularly add new materials, always trying to keep a balance between green and brown materials.
  • Turning your pile once a week will help get air in, and also to mix all the materials together, that might be at different stages of decomposition
  • Also remember to check the moisture content, I prefer checking it by hand, after a while you will realise what the right consistency is supposed to be like, and it will get easier and easier to maintain that same consistency.
  • For quicker results, you can break up, or cut up, the materials before adding it to your pile, and then push it in between spots of half decomposed materials.
  • If it’s possible, try to place your bin as far as possible from your entertainment areas or from the house at least. They tend to give off a little bit of an odour sometimes, but no need to be alarmed.

Common problems

  • Too wet or mushy?

You can try to put the pile in direct sunlight, or add dryer materials, like wood chips, which will soak up some of the moisture. You should also water your pile less.

  • To cover, or not to cover?

I feel that this should be up to you. We do not cover our piles, but that is mostly because we just have too much to try and put it in a bin. Covering it up will contain most of the heat and moisture, which, again, will accelerate the whole process. Covering it up will also greatly help to keep away any unwanted guests, like rats.

  • What to put in?

I once found the most complete list  of things to compost, ever. And even though we do not put everything on this list in, this again, is up to you. We for instance do not put in pet hair, or any bones, or cooked food.

Benefits of composting

First of all by composting kitchen and garden waste you are significantly reducing the amount of unnecessary waste on land fill sites. You are also ‘recycling’ energy and nutrients back into your own garden and lawn.

Using your own compost in your garden also has quit a few benefits, like the amount of money you will be saving by not having to buy it from a store.

Other benefits, of course include nourishing you plants, grass, and veggies (if you have), thereby reducing the amount of water required to keep these happy and healthy. It also helps to control pests and plant diseases.

And maybe the most important of all, when you use it on your veggie garden you know the food that your family is eating is truly organic and 100% healthy.

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