In Brief: How To Compost At Home – Benefits, Methods, Issues, and Precautions
Compost is nutrient-filled humus formed mainly from organic kitchen and environmental waste. Some of the benefits include saving you cash, helping protect the environment, and ensuring that your plants and soil get the nutrients they need. But to compost at home, you need to know the correct methods, as well as the issues that could occur if you do not compost properly.
Compost forms from organic waste, such as tea bags, coffee grounds, fruits, and other foods used in the kitchen, as well as waste from plants like dry leaves, twigs, and barks.
These come together to give you a nutrient-dense supplement for your farms and gardens.
We will be discussing how you can easily compost at home, and we will also look at the benefits, challenges, and precautions that might be involved in the process.
- In Brief: How To Compost At Home – Benefits, Methods, Issues, and Precautions
- Why Compost At Home
- How To Compost At Home – Benefits, Methods, Issues, and Precautions
- Elements For Composting
- Benefits Of Composting At Home
- How To Compost At Home
- Issues and Precautions With Composting At Home
Why Compost At Home
It could be said that you do not need to prepare your compost at home by yourself or that the compost could easily be sourced from other alternatives.
However, if you are an astute gardener or farmer, you most likely want to know you have the best organic components and fertilizers being fed into your soil.
Composting at home removes every doubt of the quality of material that goes into your soil as the compost is self-prepared.
There is no wondering if the manufacturer of the compost added something that may or may not be beneficial to your own soil.
It also saves you from taking trips to landfills.
How To Compost At Home – Benefits, Methods, Issues, and Precautions
Let’s take a look into the elements needed for composting, the upsides, the ways to compost, and the possible issues you could encounter.
Elements For Composting
When making your compost, there are elements and conditions that must be present to get the right compost, and we will be discussing them here.
When you are preparing your compost, two substances must be present in the right ratio. Without these substances, there is no compost formation.
They are known as carbon and nitrogen sources, otherwise called the browns and the greens.
Nitrogen sources, which are known as greens, included food waste such as coffee grounds, tea bags, and other kitchen waste.
Carbon sources, also referred to as the browns, include materials like dry leaves, twigs, barks, and carbon papers.
These must be present in the right proportions, with the amount of carbon sources being a little more than the nitrogen sources.
Good Surface Area
For reactions to occur quickly and adequately, a large surface area is needed. This allows for the proper mixing of components, which promotes quicker reactions.
Therefore, it is advisable to add materials in bits rather than in large chunks to create the surface area needed for easy and quick reactions.
Every living organism needs air to breathe, move, work, and survive. It is the same with the bacteria that is needed for compost formation.
In the absence of oxygen, bacteria will not form, and the degradation of the waste into useful compost will be totally impossible.
When moisture is either insufficient or excessive, it affects the quality of the compost.
This is because microbial survival and movement depend largely on moisture. Thus, a damp heap would be more beneficial for compost formation than a dry or waterlogged heap.
When preparing compost, it is important to ensure that the temperature of the heap is just right. This is because microbial life and action are sustained by warm temperatures.
If the heap is too cold, there will be no microbial action. If it is too hot, the microbes will be killed. To get good usable compost, a favorable temperature for microbial action is a must.
Benefits Of Composting At Home
What are the benefits of composting at home? Let’s take a look.
Saves You Time and Cash
When composting at home, you are saved from the rigors of transporting your waste to a landfill site or paying those who move waste. As you compost, you save yourself some road time, some fuel, and some cash.
As you compost at home, you save the landfill from unnecessary greenhouse gases that may result from the degradation of waste food products.
These greenhouse gases are responsible for ozone layer depletion, so making your own compost saves the environment from this threat.
Check out this video to see how composting helps protect the environment:
Soil Conditioning and Amendment
When you use compost made by you on your soil, you are sure that your soil will get the right nutrients that it needs because you know what went into the preparation of the compost.
You are not in doubt about the quality of the compost, and if well prepared, your soil will benefit richly from the nutrient-dense compost.
As your soil is enriched, your plants also benefit and are able to grow healthily to yield a fruitful and bountiful harvest.
Eliminates the Need For Fertilizers
The use of compost completely eliminates the need for fertilizers on your soil. Every nutrient the soil needs is readily obtained from the compost.
Even the micronutrients like Boron, Cobalt, Iron, and Copper can be obtained from a good compost.
How To Compost At Home
There are basically two methods of composting – outdoor composting and indoor composting. Whatever method you choose, ensure the following steps are used to create your compost.
- Site Location
It is very important to choose a site that will not be a problem for you or your neighbors when composting. If composting indoors, a good place could be a cupboard beneath your sink or in the backyard if you don’t have pets roaming around.
Just ensure that the location can be easily accessed and would pose no threat or concerns to you or your neighbors.
- Bin Choice
For indoor composting, the use of a compost bin is highly necessary. This bin can be bought or self-made, but it should have dimensions of 3x3x3 feet, or something close to that.
This is to allow for proper aeration and heat production.If you are composting outside and using direct soil, a compost bin may be eliminated.
Otherwise, the same considerations for the indoor compost bin are advised.
- Materials Addition
Once your site and bin have been decided on, it is time to begin the composting process itself. However, it must be noted that not everything can be used in compost preparation.
The table below gives us an idea of some of the things that may or may not go into compost preparation.
Also note that carbon sources, such as dried leaves, newspapers, etc., must be at least two-thirds of the mix. Meanwhile, nitrogen sources, such as coffee grounds, tea bags, etc., should be about one-third of the mix.
Can Go In Can't Go In Vegetable Scraps Meat or animal products, including bones, butter, eggs, etc. Eggshells Coal ash Yard waste (dried leaves, twigs, barks, etc.) Weeds or weed seeds Newspapers Pet droppings Manure from vegetarian sources Synthetic chemicals Coffee grounds and filters Tea bags
When the mix is complete, it is essential to monitor the other elements, such as temperature, oxygen, moisture, and the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.
If any of these is either insufficient or excessive, it may yield a compost that is not as nutrient-rich as desired. Lack of oxygen or excessive nitrogen could lead to smelly compost, which is not desired.
Watch this video below to learn how to compost at home:
Issues and Precautions With Composting At Home
If the compost is not well-prepared, some challenges may present themselves. We will discuss some of these challenges and the necessary steps needed to prevent them.
Lack Of Microbial Action
In the absence of oxygen, microbial life will be nonexistent. It is, therefore, of utmost importance to ensure that the compost has enough oxygen supply.
This is achievable by regularly turning the compost heap either with a rake or fork.
However, if using a bin, the bin can be turned around a few times each week.
Broken carbon sources also provide air spaces for the inlet of oxygen, so if the oxygen supply is not enough, carbon sources may be added to the pile.
They must be in pieces and bits to allow for proper aeration.
Smelly Compost Piles
Smelliness results due to insufficient oxygen in the pile or excessive nitrogen. If the oxygen content of the pile is low, a rotten egg smell, like that of hydrogen sulfide gas, will be the more likely odor.
Meanwhile, excess nitrogen produces a smell in the breakdown process like the smell of ammonia.
Oxygen deficiency can be managed by introducing more carbon sources to the pile and turning it. This will help increase the oxygen that goes into the pile.
Excessive nitrogen can also be reduced by the addition of carbon sources.
Overheated and Underheated Compost Piles
In the presence of excessive heat, microbes present in the compost pile will be killed.
This is because microbes do not need excessive temperatures to survive.
They actually do much better in warm conditions.
Excessive nitrogen is most often the cause of high temperatures in the pile, so care must be taken to ensure that the nitrogen content is just enough to supply the amount of heat needed.
On the other hand, in the absence of heat, there will be no formation of microbes. If there are no microbes, then decomposition cannot occur.
This can be avoided by ensuring that the right size of bins are used. The recommended dimensions for bins are 3x3x3 feet to allow for sufficient aeration to take place.
Additionally, piles should be turned to allow for oxygen inflow.
Though compost consists mainly of food and environmental waste, not all types of food waste can go into the compost pile. Meat and fish products, as well as eggs, butter, etc., may not be added to compost. This is because they attract pests easily.
Droppings from non-vegetarian animals are not advised when preparing a compost. It is more advisable to use droppings from vegetarian animals, such as horses or cows.
The droppings from non-vegetarians animals may be contaminated and would affect the soil and plants.
Eggshells are a good nitrogen source and can certainly be added to the compost. However, it is better if the shells are broken into smaller bits to aid with quicker degradation.
Making your compost at home is quite easy once you know the steps to follow. Being able to compost saves you time, fuel, and cash.
It also affords you the opportunity to protect the environment and enrich your soil for healthier plant growth.
We hope you are prepared to enjoy the preparations and the benefits that come with well-prepared compost.