How To Start A Composting Pile & Things To Know Before Starting Your Own
Ever wonder how to start a composting pile? This blog post will teach you the basics of starting your own composting process, the benefits of composting, why composting is good for your garden, and how composting affects the environment.
In order to have a successful and productive compost heap, it is important that all organic material be broken down so as not to attract unwanted pests or create large amounts of unpleasant odors. Compost piles can take anywhere from 10 days up to 3 months to develop usable compost, depending on the materials used and the conditions in which they are kept.
Composting increases the nutrients in your garden while saving money and has multiple benefits which we will explain further below, but some include...
- Naturally Enriches Soil: Compost is a natural and effective way to enrich soil. It contains important nutrients like nitrogen, potassium as well many other helpful ingredients which can't be found in commercial fertilizers such has synthetic chemicals or hormones; this makes it better than anything else on the market!
- Composting Helps The Environment: Food waste and yard scraps make up 30% of what we throw away. Composting at home helps you cut down on waste, as well as methane emissions from landfills! Be sure to check out our Bargain Box Variety Mix Of Food, Snacks, And Candy! (Get a huge discount on food, reduce food waste, and help feed hungry Americans!)
- Recycle More & Throw Away Less: Composting is a great way to use up all of your kitchen and yard waste, instead of tossing it into the garbage. When you create compost from these organic materials like grass clippings or food scraps it becomes an essential part in creating healthy gardens for plants as well as fertilizing soil. You’ll be giving your waste a second chance and higher purpose in comparison to taking up space at a landfill.
- Become More Mindful Of Your Waste: When actively composting you begin to become more aware of how much food you are wasting. This in turn will help you be more sufficient and waste less food (this will also help lower your average food costs!)
The majority of organic matter, such as fallen leaves, produce, or grass clippings can be turned into high quality compost using only an aerobic (oxygen) process without any special equipment necessary! After reading our article on how to start a composting pile, you will be able to make your own compost at home in no time!
What is composting
Composting is the coordinated decomposition of organic material by microbes, primarily aerobes and anaerobes, into a natural end product that's rich in nutrients. Composting helps create healthy organic soils - the kind that are nutrient-rich for plants, and a liquid called compost tea. Healthy plant growth leads to healthier people. Organic waste should never be sent to a landfill because it will rot there releasing gases that are harmful to humans and animals nearby as well as producing leachate which spreads contaminants into ground water around the site. The purpose of composting at home or on any farmland is to create good dirt to avoid the need to buy more chemicals and fertilizers for soil enrichment, or (even worse) to use synthetic pesticides.
Composting is one of the most effective tools in your organic garden. It eliminates waste, reduces reliance on chemical fertilizers and transforms trash into nutrient rich food for plants. Perhaps best of all, it's easy to do! Though it does take patience and time, the amount you have to put in up front will quickly pay off over the years as you improve soil quality and reduce the need for chemical treatments.
If you can gather up all your compostable kitchen waste like vegetable peels, fruit and veggie scraps, breads/grains, coffee grounds and filters, egg shells and even some natural fibers like paper towel and scrap cloth – then you're ready to begin composting!
Benefits of composting
Composting is a great way to break down waste and turn it into something usable. It's an excellent soil amendment, which makes your homes soil healthier for the plants living inside as well as those outside on its windowsills, back and front yard, or balconies! Not only will you be doing yourself a favor by composting, you’ll also be reducing your carbon footprint and give your garden a bounty of extra nutrients without the harsh chemicals.
Organic matter is one of the three nutrients plants need for healthy growth, the others being nitrogen and phosphorus. The average US household produces over 500 pounds of compostable materials each year! This can all be diverted from landfills and into your own backyard composter, becoming rich fertilizer for your garden or lawn. You can purchase a composter or make your own with some form of container (e.g., garbage bin) and two holes; one near the bottom as an air inlet for oxygen-loving aerobic microbes and another on top as an air outlet for those that thrive in hot temperatures like composting worms.
A List Of Some Of The Benefits Of Composting:
- Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers
- Improves water retention in soil
- Increases organic matter of soil
- Controls erosion and water washout
- Reduces reliance on fossil fuels (e.g., fertilizer production depends on petroleum, which is used as a source of nitrogen)
- Conserves landfill space
- Provides nutrient-rich material for gardening and landscaping
- Helps manage food scraps that might otherwise end up in landfills or become an environmental pollutant if not properly disposed
- Can be produced at home, requiring very little energy
- Slow decomposition process creates carbon sink by absorbing CO2
- Produces bioenergy gas more efficiently than landfills, so it can also be used as a fuel source
- Can be made into a biochar
- Compost also provides nutrients to insects like worms
- Reduces food waste by enabling commercial and residential facilities to recycle food scraps via local programs
- Creates jobs related to composting
- Manure from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) can be used as fertilizer after composting
- Some lifeforms adapt well to the extreme conditions of compost
- Increases biodiversity
- Reduces greenhouse gases
- Can improve soil quality
- Composting reduces nutrient loss by reducing the volume of usable organic matter that goes into landfills
- Will reduce the use of trash bags by reducing what you place in your garbage
- May reduce your trash bill
- Reduces your carbon footprint
- Composting also gives a better sense to waste less food but gives any food waste a second chance at being useful
How to start a compost pile in your backyard
Building a compost bin is very easy and cheap. A simple, effective design for a single-bin compost system can be made from some cinder blocks stacked together in a square with four posts driven into the ground as corner supports. Fill it with leaves, grass clippings and food scraps and let nature do its work! If you don't have any of those materials available to you, the cheapest way to build your own compost bin is just to buy some wood and chicken wire fencing and build a square or rectangle bin big enough for your homes worth of waste and aerate it regularly.
Many people who live in cities may not have access to large backyards that are ideal for composting; therefore, they must build or buy a compost bin. You can build or buy a compost bin for just about any size yard. You can also keep a compost bin in your garage or even on the patio if you want to. There are countless benefits that come from composting and recycling organic materials like leaves, grass clippings and food scraps.
If you would like multiple bins or if there isn't enough room in your backyard then buying a pre made single composting unit may be the right choice for you. There are a variety of sizes and options available on the market, so choosing one can be confusing. The best way to know which one is best for you is to do a little research on them before your purchase.
Don't let yourself get overwhelmed though! Buying a compost bin should not have to be a stressful experience as long as you take in consideration of how much waste you need to compost and from there buy the appropriate sized unit. If it's more space that you need then buying two or three smaller units may be ideal for your situation. For those who have an outdoor built compost bin, if you ever experience issues such as unpleasant odors or attracting pests try moving the bin to a different location or adding a lid. Many times the problem can be resolved simply by changing the bin's location.
Composting in an apartment
Can I compost in an apartment? Yes! You can compost while living in an apartment. A great alternative to outdoor compost bins is to purchase a self-contained compost bin, which would come with a cover and does not need any additional preparation or tending to effectively work its magic on whatever scraps you add in. Composting doesn't require any special skills or materials but be mindful of your living space and neighbors, composting in an apartment space might be a bit more challenging because your compost pile will need to sit for a while longer before it breaks down into usable compost. There may also be some nasty smells depending on your composting unit and its need for circulating air.
Composting in winter
Is it possible to compost in winter?
The answer is yes, but not with frozen-ground. The ideal conditions for effective decomposition include air temperatures between 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit - which doesn't sound too bad if you live somewhere that has those kinds of weather year round! But remember: different types of organic material require varying levels of moisture throughout the process; so one way or another you'll need some water nearby at all times because things will get pretty dry otherwise.
If you live in an area with temperatures go below 50 degrees it is unlikely that your compost pile will be actively decomposing as much as it would in warmer weather, but nonetheless you can still add items to the pile as they will start to decompose as soon as it warms up outside. Take this into consideration when creating or buying your compost bin so that you have enough space to add food scraps and more to your compost pile year round.
What to put in a composting bin? What can I compost?
What should you put in your composting bin?
A wide variety of things you CAN put in the compost pile include wood chips which act like an organic mulch; grass clippings (from lawns- even dead grass clippings); leaves - both fresh cut and dead ones, fruit and vegetables (apples, corn cobs, lettuce, peppers, onions, orange peels, rice, etc.) pine needles, coffee grounds, nuts, egg shells, tea leaves and tea bags (make sure the tea bags are decomposable), old newspapers (preferably shredded), saw dust, animal waste, dog poop and kitty litter, rabbit litter, and similar items are all great additives to a compost pile.
You can also add meat to your compost, but be aware that meat can attract scavengers such as raccoons and pests like flies. Essentially anything organic will decompose with enough time and exposure to the elements.
What should not be composted?
It’s recommend to avoid adding any plastics, styrofoam, oil, clothing, bones, metal, roots, logs, rocks, or tree branches, as these items will not decompose easily or properly.
Can you compost human waste?
Can you compost human feces? The answer may shock some people... Yes, it is possible to break down our waste and transform it into nutrient rich soil for plants. BUT although human waste is full of nutrients, it also contains bacteria, pathogens, pharmaceutically active chemicals, heavy metals, synthetic hormones, and viruses that are typically not processed properly with an at home composter system. There are actually composting toilets available that will essentially create ready to use compost with human feces and waste water. We recommend keeping human waste out of your composter unless you are properly equipped to use it otherwise!
Tips & tricks for composting
Keep it simple. Take the easy road when starting out composting by following steps that work for you. There are so many types of compost systems, but they usually compost in some similar fashion. If you're composting indoors, a worm composting system is a good for this.
Good compost needs structure. Whether you are creating compost outdoors or indoors, make sure to create compost bins with good airflow and drainage to allow the microbes responsible for decomposing the organic matter to do their job well. Remember that not all composters are created equal! Some outdoor composters have more complicated structures than others so read up on different types of compost systems before making your purchase or making your own.
Try to turn and mix up your compost to help speed up aeration and the decomposition process. Place your composting bin or pile in a place with sunlight or warmth, but in a spot that will not be a bother if any off putting or rotting smells are created. Last but not least, be sure to make a compost bin that’s large enough to accommodate your waste, if you have a large family or a lot of pets you will likely need a larger composting space.
Common mistakes people make when starting a home composter and how to avoid them
Composting is honestly pretty foolproof when you let nature take its course, but if time is a factor some things can prevent your composting pile from turning to compost quickly.
Common mistakes people make when composting at home are not adding enough compostable items to the compost pile, not turning the compost pile often enough, not adding moisture, creating too small or too large of a compost bin, adding non compostable items, and bad placement of the compost pile.
Composting at home can be done easily and with minimal work as long as you avoid these common mistakes and keep it simple!
What Is Compost Tea? Benefits Of Compost Tea?
Compost tea is an organic fertilizer made of brewing compost and water, and then aerating it to extract the bacteria and fungi that will grow.
This mixture is often called 'soil soup' and is then diluted with water to create nutrient-rich tea that can be sprayed on the base of plants to feed them. Compost tea can help reduce the need for synthetic chemical fertilizer and also deter some pests such as whiteflies and aphids.
There are several methods of making compost tea, but most involve adding a mixture of compost and water to a large barrel or pail, stirring the mix well, removing it from any foam or scum on top, covering it tightly with a lid, aerating it by bubbling air through the brew using an aquarium pump and dispensing it into smaller containers for use.
The duration of time needed varies from one method to another, but typically compost tea is ready to use in about 48 hours. The mix should be stirred or agitated at least once a day during the brew cycle, and it must be covered tightly to prevent the escape of the fermenting bacteria.
Most commercial products involve using specific bacterial strains that are often not present in home-brews, so there is no single best method for making compost tea. Some methods of brewing can produce high quality teas with little effort, while others require more expertise and equipment.
Commercial brewers recommend allowing each batch of compost tea to sit for twenty four hours after aeration before removing any solids from the top and then adjusting the concentrate's volume back up to its original by adding water, depending on how frequently the tea will be sprayed on plants.
Depending on the type of compost used, a batch of tea can contain as many as four to six billion bacteria and nine billion fungi per quart. In comparison, each handful of healthy soil contains tens or hundreds of thousands of bacteria and billions of fungi. The 'active ingredient' in most commercially available mixes is Thermus aquaticus, a species which has been genetically modified to produce thermophilic enzymes at high temperatures.
Compost tea should not be applied directly to a plant's foliage because it often lacks nutrients derived from nitrogen-containing compounds, but spraying compost tea around the base of plants can help deter some pests such as whiteflies and aphids by providing them with antibiotics produced by the bacterium.
The nutrients in compost can be released over time through fermentation, which may take several days after bacterial activity begins. The most common method of producing commercially available microbial mixes is using specific strains of bacteria that are cultured in an inert material such as rock wool, coconut coir or peat moss.
Proponents of compost tea claim it can also help suppress plant diseases by triggering the plant's natural defenses. This is due to the indirect effect that comes from nutrients which feed bacteria and fungi that protect plants against pathogenic microorganisms, although its effectiveness against plant diseases varies with each strain of beneficial microbe used.
Composting is a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for plants. The process of composting can take up to six months, so it's best if you start with a healthy amount of organic material and keep adding more as your pile gets smaller. You don't need any expensive items or large piles of dirt. With the help of composting, you can reduce your waste and even grow some food in your backyard with less fertilizers and harmful man-made chemicals, while lessening you carbon footprint. If you found this useful, please share it with others!