Are you thinking of growing your own vegetables? Are you looking to transform your garden and make your flowers flourish? Whatever your goals might be, compost is an essential nutrient in helping plants to grow and replenish your soil.
While it is possible to buy a bag of compost for your garden, it is incredibly easy to make at home. So if you are thinking of beginning composting at home, we have taken a closer look at the process to help you get started.
What is composting?
Before looking at how to begin, it is important to understand what composting is. Compost is decayed organic matter such as food waste, coffee grounds, and even old flowers. Composting is the process of creating your own plant nutrient from your discarded food and waste, allowing you to fertilize your garden and plants.
Alongside helping you to enrich your plants, composting also provides a wide range of benefits. Primarily, it allows you to reduce your carbon footprint by preventing the amount of food waste you are sending to landfill, reducing the amount of methane being produced.
It will also help your soil to retain more water, which reduces the amount of watering that you need to do. It is also a more cost-effective solution, allowing you to reduce the need to purchase additional nutrients and plant food.
How to start composting at home
If you are looking to start composting at home, it can be tough to know where to begin. To help you, we have created an in-depth guide on how to compost for beginners.
Choose a compost bin
The first thing that you will need to do is to decide on the right compost bin to use. There are a wide array of options available on the market, which can be confusing to start with. From the commercial square plastic bins to homemade timber solutions, each style has its own advantages and disadvantages.
If you are just beginning composting, then a commercially purchased bin is often the best way to get started. However, creating your own composting bin can also be very beneficial, so which is the right solution?
Commercial plastic bins are often the best to begin with due to their smaller size. They are often a very inexpensive solution so do not require a large investment, and they also usually come with a locking lid to prevent any vermin from entering the compost.
However, due to their small size, it can be more challenging to turn the compost, while the solid plastic also restricts the air circulation. It is also more difficult to reach the required temperatures needed to reduce pathogens and weeds.
Wooden homemade bins are very common in larger gardens, and they can be created to any size or style you want. They are able to hold a much larger amount of waste and allow you to easily turn material while increasing circulation.
They do, however, require a lot of space and can be a target for rodents and other vermin.
A compost tumbler is another popular option for beginners as it lets you quickly produce compost with minimal effort. They make turning the pile very simple, which means it is very quick to produce compost.
However, these bins are often very small and can be more costly than other alternatives on the market.
Indoor compost bins
Composting is not just suitable for those with outdoor spaces. There is also a wide range of indoor composting bins available, making them perfect for small apartments or those without a garden.
However, the downside to these is that they can be small alongside having a higher risk of creating unpleasant odors within the property if not closed correctly. Some people do not like the thought of having worms, or red wigglers, as they are affectionately known, in their home.
Choose your food waste
Once you have found the perfect composting bin for your home, it is time to start selecting the food waste that you are going to be composting. The best things to begin with are food waste such as vegetable waste, fruit materials, eggshells, coffee grounds, and any other organic matter that you might have. You can also add dead leaves, grass cuttings, paper, and cardboard.
However, it is important to remember those items that you should not put into your compost bin. This includes the likes of vegetable fats, dairy products, poultry, and fish. These items will slow down the composting process and prevent oxygen from entering the compost. You should also exclude any feces, treated wood, and inorganic material such as plastic and glass.
Start building up the waste
Once you know what kind of food waste to include, it is time to start filling up your bin. When it comes to composting at home, you want to ensure that you are adding the right mix of carbon (brown) and nitrogen (green) materials. Too much brown material and your composting bin will take a long time to break down, while too much green and you will have a slimy mix.
You should keep the mix slightly damp with water to prevent odors, while you should also mix and turn the mixture every few weeks to help accelerate the decomposition. By turning the compost, you will be aerating the soil and increase bacteria. Compost will also break down in warmer conditions, so your composting bin should be kept as warm as possible, and you could consider covering your bin in a black tarp.
To further improve the quality of your compost, you should consider adding worms (red wigglers) to the mix. They can help to further speed up the decomposition process and improve the nitrogen and overall structure of the compost.
The best worms for your composting bin
While there are many benefits to adding worms to your composting bin, it is crucial that you are using the right worms. Not all worms will like the conditions and will just work their way towards the bottom, where they become trapped.
While regular garden worms can help to improve the quality of your compost, red wigglers are the best. The red worms are very well suited to eating organic matter and are able to tolerate a greater range of temperatures and waste. Not only can red wigglers consume larger amounts of waste, but they are also able to reproduce very quickly, increasing the number of worms in your composting bin and speeding up the decomposition process even further.
Red wigglers are not found in your garden, so you will need to purchase them from a nursery or provider. They require very little maintenance and care, so as long as you are regularly keeping your composting bin stocked, then they will thrive.
There are many benefits to starting composting at home, and it is incredibly easy to begin. When it comes to purchasing your first composting bin, take your time to research the right solution for your home. You should also make sure that you are adding the right food waste to your bin to ensure that you are able to produce the very best compost for your garden.