Picture this- you’ve committed to eating all sorts of fruits and veggies, it’s going amazing, you’re nailing it and then you catch a glimpse of the pile of produce waste you’ve created. Instead of letting it rot in your kitchen trashcan (honey, please take the trash out), try composting it! We’ve given the full break down below of what composting is, why it matters and how to get started!
What is composting?
Simply put, compost is actually what you get when organic material (like food scraps and leaves) decomposes properly. It's a nutrient rich, dirt-like material that can be used to enrich soil and nourish growth.
Why does composting matter?
Improves soil structure.
Natural proteins in compost help dirt bind together, which helps soil retain nutrients and moisture.
It’s a natural and FREE fertilizer.
Compost introduces both microorganisms like bacteria and fungi; and nutrients like nitrogen, copper, phosphorus, and zinc, to soil, which makes it more fertile.
Compost makes soil healthier, causing plants to be more resistant to diseases and harmful insects.
For a healthier planet (we love this one).
Throwing organic material into the garbage is harmful to the environment. Organics make up about 1/3 of our waste, removing organic material from our garbage reduces the amount of trash we send to landfills.
Four important factors that affect the speed of organic decomposition.
Oxygen. Composting is an aerobic process, which means that oxygen is needed for the organic material to decompose. Compost piles need to be turned regularly to create that airflow.
Organic materials. Compost piles should contain a mix of nitrogen-rich materials (greens) & carbon-rich materials (browns). Greens include any thing that used to be alive such as vegetable & fruit scraps, weeds, coffee grounds, eggshells, meat, dairy, & grass clippings. Browns are things like leaves, straw, mulch, wood products, sawdust, newspaper & shredded paper. A healthy compost pile is generally 50/50 greens to browns; but the ratio depends on what you put in, & your composting method of choice.
Water. Moisture is important to a compost pile; ideally it should feel damp. Being about 50-60% water by weight, a lot of moisture comes from the food scraps. If your pile is dry, you can water the pile, but if you squeeze it and it drips, it's too saturated.
Temperature. Organic matter decomposes faster in higher temperatures, meaning that an active compost pile is warm, even when it's cold out. Turning your compost will generate more heat, although some types of composting may require less heat andmixing than others.
What can be composted?
Almost anything that comes from the ground can be composted. Cucumber ends, apple cores, carrot peels, cantaloupe rinds, avocado pits, an old pumpkin leftover from Halloween — any vegetable or fruit scrap will do. But grains also sprout from soil, which means you can throw stale bread, cereal, and pasta in your compost heap, too.
How to get started:
First, find a spot outside for your compost heap. Some people maintain a literal heap of stuff on the ground, while others keep their items contained in a large tub. A tub is often easier for beginners, but if you're going with a heap, put up a small fence to keep critters out. Looking at you squirrels.
As you collect items in your compost, aim for a mix of nitrogen-rich "green" material and carbon-heavy "brown" material. Green materials tend to be wet, and include your fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and tea leaves. Brown materials are drier, and span sawdust, newspaper clippings, and trimmings from dead plants.
Every other week, turn your compost pile with a shovel to let it aerate. Add water to keep it moist, and keep an eye out for any worrisome pests or disease. But otherwise, you can sit back and let nature do the rest of the work. It will take months for your heap of kitchen scraps to morph into soil, but you should notice a change after a few weeks.
We hope you found this helpful, informative or inspiring to try it on your own!