Composting is a great way to recycle your food scraps and yard waste. It’s also an important thing for the environment because it helps reduce landfills and greenhouse gases. Composting can be as simple or complicated as you want – all that's required is some space (preferably outdoors) and the right materials.
In this article, we'll go over what composting is, why it's so important to do it in your backyard, how to build a compost bin, which materials work best for creating homemade compost, and more. Let's get started.
What is composting?
Composting is the process of recycling organic materials like fruits, vegetables, dead leaves, and grass clippings. When composting these materials break down over time as they are exposed to air and water – this decay helps put nutrients back in the soil that will grow more plants and flowers.
Why Is Composting Important?
Composting helps reduce greenhouse gases because it prevents garbage and other waste from filling up landfills – instead of going to the dump, compost can be used in gardens and yards. Compost also helps plants grow stronger, fuller, and better by adding nutrients to the soil.
The ideas that apply when you make a compost toilet apply in this case as well, in the sense that you'll be going green and helping the environment at the same time.
How do you make a composter?
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your compost bin:
- Before making your bin you should measure the space where you want to place your composter.
- You will need 6 pieces of wood at least 4 feet high(or as tall as possible) for the sides and long enough boards to lay across the top (you can use shorter ones if needed).
- Decide where you want to place your compost. You can put it anywhere in your yard as long as there is sunlight and rainwater can easily reach the bin.
- Now dig a hole that is 2 feet deep, 3 feet wide, and 3 feet long (or as big as possible). Make sure to leave some space at the top for adding extra material or taking out finished compost later on.
How long does compost take?
The time frame depends on many factors – here are two general guidelines for how quickly you can expect homemade compost to be ready:
- For start-up materials use high nitrogen content organic waste (such as grass clippings, coffee grounds) in combination with lower nitrogen content plant material (such as leaves). This will speed up the composting process.
What can go into your compost bin?
Anything that contains carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients. Here are a few examples of what works best for making homemade compost:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps – including citrus peels, coffee grounds, eggshells (and shells), carrot tops/ends, corn husks/cobs, potato skins, or baked potatoes with skin on them (no meat or dairy products)
- Dead flowers or plants – but make sure to remove all plant material from flower pots first.
- Shredded newspaper – old pages work just fine (newspaper is high in carbon content)
- Used tea bags – make sure to empty the used tea leaves before adding them to your bin
- Dried leaves, grass (no clippings from lawns treated with chemicals), small twigs and branches
- Sawdust or wood chips – these are both high in carbon content
- Manure from animals such as horses, cows, dogs, cats
What not to put in compost?
Compost should be made up of mostly plant-based materials and a little bit of animal waste (if you have it). Here are some things that should not go into the composter:
- Dairy Products – milk containers cannot go in the composter
- Dairy containers
- Meat trays
- non-plant-related should not be put in your compost bin.
How to compost fast?
The process of creating homemade compost takes time – it can take anywhere from months to years depending on the materials you use and how often you add new organic waste into the compost that is high in nitrogen content. But if you want to speed up the process, here are a few tips to consider:
- Composting worms – these beetles can help break down fresh organic waste in a much shorter amount of time than compost normally does on its own (usually months or years)
- Bacteria cultures – some companies sell bacteria cultures that are ready to be added into your composter so you don't have to wait for compost to break down on its own
- Added materials with nitrogen content can also help accelerate the composting process
High-nitrogen material: kitchen scraps like broccoli stalks and vegetable peels; grass clippings; animal manures (cow, chicken, horse); wool; hair; blood and fish emulsion
- Add water frequently – make sure to keep the bin moist, but not wet or soggy (this helps with the breakdown process)
How to start composting with worms?
If you have not started composting before, then your first decision is whether you should be using a worm composter or a regular one. Worms are great for breaking down organic waste quickly – they can reduce the amount of time it takes to break down vegetable scraps by up to 50% compared to normal compost.
If your goal is to turn out large amounts of finished compost in as short a time as possible, then worm bins may be just what you need. But there are some downsides to using worms, including the following:
- Worm bins are typically smaller in size than regular composters (which means your finished compost will take up less space)
- Worms can spread out and make it more difficult to access your compost when necessary – they also produce liquid waste that you'll have to deal with as well
How to easily make a compost – FAQ
I don't have a garden, but I still want to make compost. Where can I do it?
Almost everyone has a small space in their yard they can use to set up a composter (you don't have to have a large gardening section for composting).
A lot of apartments also allow outdoor composters (just check the rules and regulations first before setting one up.). Whatever your situation is, here are some tips on how to create compost despite limited space:
- Put your composter near an area you frequent – if you walk by it every day, then you're more likely to add new organic waste into the bin. This might be a great opportunity to add a compost bin to a kitchen island you’re about to build.
- Set up twine around your composter so that kids or pets do not knock it over.
What should I do with my finished compost?
Once you've turned out enough homemade compost, you will then need to do something with it – here are some tips on how to use your finished compost:
- Use it as an outdoor fertilizer for plants – make sure to water the soil thoroughly first before applying the compost or else you'll risk unevenly spreading out the nutrients throughout your garden.
- If using in a container, add enough finished compost so that the plant's entire root system is surrounded by earth and not exposed (this helps give them access to important nutrients)
- Never put down too much of your finished compost – especially if growing plants that require more shade and moist ground (the extra compost will only cause their growth rate to slow down instead of speeding up as intended)
- Store it in a cool, dry place and make sure to water the soil before applying – this will help ensure no waste is created when using
- If you have large amounts of composted material (greater than one cubic yard), check with your local government agencies first for any regulations regarding disposal (many areas require you to get rid of organic waste by taking it to certain locations)
I have an earthworm farm. Can I use it to make compost?
If you have a worm farm, you can use the material inside it to make compost – just follow the same guidelines as regular outdoor composting (it's easier if your worm farm is located outdoors – just dig out a hole in one corner of your garden or lawn so that its contents fall into the ground instead of sitting at the surface)
Final thoughts on how to easily make a compost
In conclusion, if you want to learn how to easily make compost, you should always remember to treat it with care. You should have your own composting bin.
If possible, have a system in place that would collect the composting materials or waste.
By doing this, you will be able to create compost in no time.