My First Compost

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Composting: What is it?


Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed. It can be thought of as the recycling of natural things like your kitchen scraps or pile of leaves in the yard. 

Organic matter is all the  mainly carbon based stuff in the environment (such as plants). Not to be confused with organic groceries or their scraps. 

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What is the use of compost?

There are all kinds of things that compost is used for like farming or even biogas (think fuel for alternative vehicles). On an individual level of composting in your backyard, it is commonly used by people in their gardens. Compost is high in nutrients because of the recycled organic nutrients into the soil.

How does it work?

Put simply, nitrogen matter is decomposed into carbon matter with the help of oxygen and water. Think food scraps decompose into dirt with the help of water while being turned to let air get in. 

You want a lot more carbon (brown/ dry material) than nitrogen (food scraps like fruits/vegetables) in the compost bin. It needs to be turned so the dirt becomes aerated (air gets in). The air aides the decomposition. 

Do I have to use worms?

No. Worms or fungi can help speed up the process. However, you do not have to use worms. For my own compost bin, we do not have worms. 

Why should I compost?

All of the trash you put out on the curb is likely to go to a landfill where it will be composted on a large scale anyway. So why bother doing it at home? If you have a garden then that makes the choice easy. If you do not have a garden though, you might just be interested in being more green or you might care about climate change. 

In large landfills, contamination of other waste that is not organic material can change what the compost releases. Methane has become a well known gas in regards to climate change because people thought it was funny to talk about how much cows pass gas (methane in their case). In landfills, the contamination of other waste leads to methane being released into the atmosphere. My point is, if you are composting your organic waste at home you are reducing the waste that goes to the landfill and in turn reducing the release of climate change gases. Not to mention the less trash people put out on the curb, the less use of fossil fuels to run the large trucks driving around collecting it. Also you get to take the trash out less often. 

How to start a compost bin at home?

If you are not a DIY person, there are all kinds of bins you can buy. Some are reasonably affordable and some can get pricy

If you have a large storage tub laying around your house, reuse it! For our very first compost bin we tried to use and old cooler that was being thrown out. In hindsight, we should have seen the pitfalls of this. We drilled holes in all sides of the cooler and get it all set and and ready to go. Even with the holes though, the double walled insulated sides turned our compost bin into a steam trap. The air was not getting in or out of the holes. The dirt was becoming soupy even without adding more water in. 

So we bought a new storage bin that was just regular hard plastic without any insulation or double walls. We transferred everything over to the new bin and now everything is working well.

To start, we collected leaves from the yard and put them across the bottom of the bin. Then added dirt on top. Using a small flower pot we collect our kitchen scraps as the day goes on. Most of our scraps can go into the compost as they are primarily fruit and vegetable scraps since we are vegan. 

When our flower pot gets too full or at least once a day, we take it out to the compost bin to add our new scraps then cover it with the dirt as we turn the rest of the dirt in the bin as well (aeration). 

 

 

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