It is important that you apply fertilizer to your garden occasionally. You will also need fertilizer to use on your lawn, farm, and aquaponic system. Many farmers are aware that not all fertilizers are safe for use on your plants. When shopping to add nutrients to your soil, you need to be on the lookout for organic sources that contain the right nutrients to support healthy growth and development of your plant. One of such healthy nutrient source for plant is compost. In this article, we will be talking about how to use compost, things you can compost and compostable items. But before we get started, let us first take a quick look at some of the benefits of composting just in case you are contemplating on whether to compost or not.
Benefits of Composting
- One of the foremost benefits of composting is that it helps to support the production of beneficial microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria which aids in the break down of organic matter leading to the formation of humus. This is a material filled with nutrients that can lead to the growth of healthy plants in your garden.
- Using compost in your garden will reduce your dependency on chemical fertilizers. This also saves you the problems associated with the use chemical fertilizers such as exposure to toxins and environmental pollution.
- Compost helps to reduce carbon and methane emissions from your soil.
- It also helps to provide your soil with nutrients that support growth. This makes it a good solution to the problem of soil nutrient deficiency.
- Composting also helps to reduce the buildup of waste in landfills. This is because many of the materials that are often disposed off can be kept for use as organic manure for plants.
- Composting is a cheap source to providing nutrients for your plants. You get to save money on manure and fertilizer once you decide to compost.
- Composting also helps to encourage soil water retention. This reduces the effect of erosion and also stops the depletion of the nutrients present in the soil.
The Basics of Composting
The basic thing you need to know about composting is that there are three ingredients required for the process to take place and they are:
Water helps to provide the moisture needed for decomposition to take place. Water helps in the breakdown of the organic matter that leads to the formation of humus.
Green materials are the waste products that form the compost. They can include vegetable waste, fruit, coffee grounds, and other organic materials. Greens also provide a natural nitrogen source that is needed for composting to take place.
Brown materials are also ingredients that makeup compost. They include twigs, dead leaves, and branches. They are the main source of carbon to the entire pile.
Having identified the three important ingredients for compost, you need to also know that you will need to add equal amounts of green and brown materials when piling up your compost. You will need to pile the materials up in alternate layers of brown and green. You can either build your compost indoor or using an outdoor space at the back of your home or side of your farm.
Items you can Compost with
We have compiled a list of all the available things you can use when piling up your compost. Some of the materials mentioned here will not be acceptable to some of us due to the fear that these ingredients may support the emergence of pests in your garden or home. Considering that this is an extensive list, we are certain that you will be able to find the right material to compost with.
Green Materials Suitable for Composting
Greens are the best source of nitrogen to compost and they are needed in large quantity when building your compost pile. Here are some of the best sources of nitrogen for compost
- Cooked plain rice
- Cooked plain pasta
- Stale bread
- Corn cobs
- Dead plants (ensure they are not diseased)
- Dead flower heads
- Fresh leaves
- Fruit peels
- Vegetable peels
- Coffee grounds
- Trims from houseplants
- Grass clippings
- Melon rinds
- Citrus rinds
- Tea bags/leaves
- Broccoli stalks
- Old herbs and spices
Brown Materials Suitable for Composting
Browns provide your compost with the carbon needed to support aeration within the compost. They also help to improve the structure of your compost once decomposition begins. Some of the best browns you can add to your compost pile include
- Shredded office papers
- Shredded newspapers
- Bird nests
- Used napkins
- Toilet paper
- Fall leaves
- Beddings from rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs
- Sawdust (use only dust obtained from wood that hasn’t been treated)
- Brown paper bags
- Wood chips
Some people often add items such as fat, dairy and meat to their compost by we clearly left those out in our list of ingredients because you will need to be extremely cautious when using such items. You can speed up the rate of compost by ensuring that you add equal amounts of brown and green to the mix. But if you notice that your compost is not decomposing as fast as it should, you will need to add more green materials to jack things up.
Things You Can’t Compost with
Some people often make the mistake of including the materials mentioned below as part of their compost items.
- Greasy foods boxes such as empty pizza box
- Wrapping paper made from metal
- Dead plants that contain diseases
- Cooking oil
- Haircare products
While they might cut across like a domestic waste product, these materials have no benefit to your compost as they do not have the ability to decompose even when they are left in the pile for a long period of time. You want to make use of materials that are easily broken down once decomposition begins.
You will need to make use of a bin when preparing your compost indoors. This bin you can easily purchase from your local gardening supply store or hardware store. When using a compost bin indoors, you will need to be extra careful to ensure that you don’t encourage the outbreak of rodents or pests inside your home. You will need to tend to your pile regularly and your compost should be ready in less than six weeks.
Composting Outside your home
The best place for you to compost outside your home is at the back of the house or at the side of your farm. There are a number of ways you can prepare your compost pile, but you need to make sure that whichever method you use, the three main ingredients need to be in place namely greens, browns, and water. You will also require some gardening tools to make things easier and they include machetes, shovels, pitchforks, and water hoses. When preparing your compost at the back of your house, you will need to:
- Keep the pile at a dry place that is close to a source of water
- Shred all large brown or green materials to smaller pieces before they are added you the pile.
- Moisten dry materials before adding them to your compost.
- After piling up the compost materials, you will need to add vegetable waste and fruits at the bottom of the pile to speed up the rate of decomposition.
- Cover the compost to encourage the buildup of heat inside it.
- Keep the entire compost moist by watering it occasionally using a spray hose or allowing it to get wet under the rain.
Your compost should be ready for use after a period of 2 months but this can take more than a year depending on the compost material used. You can find all this material in your kitchen or around the house. It is best that you make use of waste obtained from your home. You can also make use of waste products obtained from your neighbor’s bin or go looking for compostable materials around your neighborhood.
When keeping compost pile close to the house, you need to take extra care to ensure that it does not encourage the emergence of insects and pests in your garden or home. A good way to handle this will be to purchase an organic pesticide or insecticide that has the ability to neutralize insects and pests while also keeping you safe from toxins that can endanger your health or plant health.
With the materials mentioned above, you should be able to determine which items to use when next you are planning your compost pile. Have you tried making your own compost before and how did you go about it? We will like to hear from you in the comment section.