Composting – Not Only for Country Folk!

Some people seem to think composting is only for farmers and country folk…Well, maybe. But others can certainly benefit pretty substantially from having a compost right outside their back door. For one, nice attractive plants as well as gardening are things many people enjoy regardless of their walk of life. Good compost is one of the best kinds of fertilizer, not to mention you can cut down on your garbage bill.

This is where green living makes its glorious introduction! Many first world countries incinerate their garbage using expensive fuel and collection methods. These costly uses of precious resources and labor can be greatly reduced if everyone

Dirt from Compost

would just start composting! It doesn’t mean everyone has to move out to the country and become farmers. It just means we all understand the benefits to composting and do what we can.

We recently started composting and have immediately seen a tremendous drop in our garbage production. A smaller bucket or pail beside your usual garbage cans for your compost is perfect. It shouldn’t be too big as then it will take longer to fill and can start smelling up your kitchen. Ideally, a proper compost can be bought at a home center, but this isn’t a must. Composts can be built by hand as well.

If you happen to have extra land available you can simply dig a hole and use that as your compost. This of course may not provide a conducive environment for composting as it won’t have a lid etc, but it’s a start – even if it’s only for waste reduction. This is what we have, and it works beautifully as we’re ultimately just looking to cut down on garbage. But for a compost to be effective as a fertilizer, it needs to have 4 important elements:

1. Carbon. – High carbon materials tend to be dry and brown (dead grass, etc).

2. Nitrogen. – High nitrogen materials tend to be green – or colorful (fruit and veggies)- and wet.

3. Oxygen. – For oxidizing the carbon – the basis of the decomposition process.

4. Water. – Must be in the right amounts so as to maintain a conducive environment without causing anaerobic conditions.

So it seems that making good compost isn’t just about throwing your egg shells and rotten veggies out your kitchen window and simply “hoping for the best”. Having a suitable container for your compost is crucial to maintaining a controlled environment. Without a lid, rain and sun will upset the delicate balance via excessive water or vice versa. Also, make sure your lid isn’t air-tight – or close to it. Remember, it needs sufficient oxygen!

Another noteworthy aspect of composting is that when there is the right mixture of elements, it will reach significantly high temperatures due to the rate of work done by the bacteria. This is an ideal condition for compost as it indicates that the bacteria is busy at work decomposing, and is therefore producing heat. A result of this heat or work done is the rapid consumption of oxygen, and so “managing” the compost periodically becomes a necessity.

As the oxygen is depleted, it must be replenished for it to continue its optimum rate of decomposition. This is why sufficient air-exchange is necessary – although too much air or wind on the other hand, will work to dehydrate the compost. “Managing” your compost may consist of things such as stirring, administering water, or opening and leaving the lid off for a time so as to reduce the moisture content.

The most efficient composting is created with a carbon:nitrogen ratio of about 30:1. To give you a better idea, freshly-cut grass has an average ratio of 15:1 and dry autumn leaves about 50:1. There is no perfect mix when it comes to composting, but by following the basic formula above, you can get pretty close and come out with some fine gardening supplements. Good luck and have fun while making a positive difference in your part of our beautiful world!

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