I have to admit I get weirdly excited about compost. Compost is the ultimate in recycling magic. Basically you turn your garbage into a high value product (black gold) for FREE! Finished compost is dark, crumbly, smells like the forest floor and is the single best thing you can add to the soil.
What’s so great about compost?
- Reduce contribution to landfills by up to 50% if you divert compostable waste to your garden
- Lower your carbon footprint by replacing bought soil products, you cant get more local than your own home
- Substitute artificial petro-chemical fertilizers that pollute the environment during manufacture
- Avoid polluting the water ways with the run-off from chemical fertilizers applied to the soil
- Use less water. Soil can retain 16,000 more gallons of water per acre for every 1 percent of organic material.
Restores Fertility to Soil
- Improve soil structure; loosens clay soil and binds sandy soil.
- Increases the microbiology of the soil, alive soil is healthy soil and compost literally feeds the soil
- Allows for better water retention and distribution
- Allows for better air circulation
- Used as a mulch it improves the appearance of the soil and gives garden beds a ‘finished’ look.
- Boosts plant immunity to stress for healthier, stronger plants
- Suppresses disease and pests
- Provide natural, slow release nutrients to the soil that won’t burn plant roots
- Encourages the presence of beneficial organisms that form symbiotic relationships with plants, benefits that can’t be replicated by any artificial means.
- Neutralizes soil pH and buffers plants from pH extremes
Good for you!
- Create a natural, valuable product for free
- Save money. No need to buy expensive soil amendments and fertilizers
- Easy, just divert the compostable trash to the compost bin
- Flexible: there are simple compost solutions to suit every lifestyle
- Fun! Really!
So now that you have a few reasons why compost is awesome and why we all should be doing it let’s talk about getting started with some of the most easy-peasy options.
- Utilize the compost and yard waste collections offered by your current waste collection service. You’re already tossing those veggie peelings in the trash so just toss them in the compost bin and kick it to the curb as usual. Whilst you don’t benefit from any of the finished compost yourself, you have none the less diverted it from the landfill and benefitted the soil that will receive it. Good job!
- Build a traditional compost pile. Throw all your organic materials into a pile outside until you have a pile at least 3 sq ft. Turn the pile every now and then. In about a year you will have finished compost. This is as easy as using a compost collection service but you get the finished product too. You can build a bin to out of recycled material if you want to hide your compost. You can also speed up the process dramatically if you balance the carbon to nitrogen ratio, shred the material, and turn the pile frequently.
- Start a Worm Bin. This is my personal favorite but does have a set up cost involved. You can start with an airtight container and a handful of red wiggler composting worms. Punch ventilation holes in the bin, half fill the bin with damp shredded paper (or other bedding), add your worms and bury your organic waste under the bedding as you add to it. The worms can eat about half their weight each day, turning your waste into compost in about a month. The worms also breed and maintain their population so as long as you keep feeding them you won’t have to buy more. Worm castings are the ultimate compost and you can maintain a bin right under your kitchen sink so its suitable for everybody whether they have a yard or not.
- Sheet Mulching (aka Lasagna Gardening). Now I’m getting really excited. When you have a lot of organic material in the fall from all your yard chores, you can pile the organic matter onto an existing garden bed or create a new one. Just layer carbon and nitrogen until the pile is 2 ft high, finishing with a carbon layer. You then leave the sheet mulch to breakdown over the winter and plant right into it in the spring.
- Bury it in the garden. Rather than create a pile, you can simply dig a trench or hole anywhere in your garden and simply bury your organic waste right there.