What is Composting?
Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. Anything that grows decomposes eventually; composting simply speeds up the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms (such as worms, sowbugs, and nematodes) to do their work. The resulting decomposed matter, which often ends up looking like fertile garden soil, is called compost.
Now over to the benefits;
- Improves Soil Health and Lessens Erosion
Compost is an essential tool for improving large-scale agricultural systems. Compost contains three primary nutrients needed by garden crops: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It also includes traces of other essential elements like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Instead of relying on synthetic fertilizers that contain harmful chemicals, composting offers an organic alternative. Research has shown the capability of compost to increase soil’s water retention capacity, productivity, and resiliency.
- Reduces the Waste Stream
Composting is a great way to recycle organic waste and allows us to divert some of that waste from landfills and turn it into something practical for our yards.
- Cuts Methane Emissions From Landfills
Typically when organic matter decomposes, it undergoes aerobic decomposition, meaning that it’s broken down by microorganisms that require oxygen. When compostable waste goes to a landfill, it gets buried under massive amounts of other trash, cutting off a regular supply of oxygen for the decomposers. The waste then ends up undergoing anaerobic decomposition, being broken down by organisms that can live without free-flowing oxygen. During anaerobic decomposition, biogas is created as a by-product. This biogas is roughly 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide, both of which are potent greenhouse gasses, with methane being 28 to 36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a century.
Anything that grows decomposes eventually; and not everything that decomposes is a good compost because some compose materials may contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses that could be harmful to humans and the environment.
Now that you understand the nitty gritty of composting, the next question is how to begin;
- Firstly; find Your ideal spot
Select a dry shady area that is away from your house but close enough for your garden hose to reach. Though you can buy a simple bin or tumbler that makes turning your compost a breeze, you can also compost directly on the ground. Some recommend adding a base layer of mulch, woody or bushy material, to promote aeration, but that’s optional.
- Mix Often and Keep It Moist
The more often you mix or turn your pile, the faster it will decompose. You can use a shovel or a rake to mix. Be sure to mix the pile thoroughly at a minimum of once every two weeks. And use your garden hose to add moisture if you notice your pile is dry. It should be damp like a wrung out sponge.
- Cover to Retain Heat, Moisture and Nutrients
This will trap the heat and aid your compost in cooking. It will also prevent nutrient loss in case it rains.
Now that you understand the benefits of composting, then this is a good sign to start gardening.
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