It is possible to make our home and kitchen more sustainable by making compost. Although food waste can be great compost material, we must be smart about what constitutes as “waste”. Sometimes we waste edible parts of the food without realizing it. However, it is possible to consume some food from shell to seed.
Compost is the name for the natural fertilizer that is made from ground and mulched food, wood, or any flora-based waste. While the word decay may have a negative sound, when it comes to composting decay is how waste is brought back to life. Through this natural fertilizer, you can enrich your soil as it makes it easier to aerate and cultivate for better vegetables, fruit, or flower-growing.
Composting may sound complicated. However, with a few tricks, it can be a breeze to do, and your plants will thank you. All it takes is a little gardening, and composting can become a natural part of your daily routine, like taking out the garbage. Through composting, you can repurpose your kitchen waste and achieve a more sustainable lifestyle with a simple move.
First of all, if you have a garden, decide where you want to set up the compost. Let this be an area that is easily accessible from home, where you can move around comfortably, under a little bit of sun and shade. You can start with one compost but reserve a room for several compost boxes in case of increases over time.
You don’t necessarily need a garden to make compost; you can also place it on the balcony. Ready-made compost boxes are sold but making them at home is also very easy. Make holes in an oversized bucket or trash. You can line a mosquito net inside the bucket and close the gaps from the inside to prevent flies and insects from entering.
When making compost, two types of materials are used, one is green, and the other is brown. Green materials that provide nitrogen are; vegetable and fruit waste, fresh herbs, green leaves, tea waste, eggshells; brown materials can consist of branches and bark, nuts, sawdust, dry leaves, pine needles, straw, and stems. The recommended ratio is to use half of green and half of brown ingredients. It is also necessary to use freshly cut grass and water to speed up the decay process.
There are two types of compost: cold and hot. Cold compost is an easier and less risky method. Hot compost, on the other hand, is much quicker, but at the same time has more points where it can go awry. They both rely on stacking green and brown materials on top of each other in the correct ratio and ensure that they decay properly. While it may take up to a year to make cold compost, hot compost takes about a month to be ready.
How to Compost?
It is essential to maintain a balance of moisture and air for healthy compost. That’s why you need to mix and ventilate every three days to a week. Choose an easy place that is comfortable to mix and move it around. Using a shovel, blend the outer parts of the heap inside the compost and the inner parts outwards. To ensure the moisture balance, you can wet the mixture a little if it dries, or you can add more green materials if you have any around. If it is too watery, add brown elements to balance it like branches or dry leaves. A correct compost should have the texture of a moist sponge.
You may need to wait a bit to use your cold compost, as it can take at least six months. This period may vary depending on climate conditions, the type and amount of materials used as well. For example, the composting process slows down in cold weather. Keep adding on the green and brown materials you want to use in your compost. Wait until the box is full and decayed into a fertilizer. The trick is to cover the ingredients entirely with a carbon-containing material such as wood shavings, straw, and dry leaves anytime you add new ingredients. This way, your compost won’t attract flies and you’d get to prevent bad odors.
Hot composting is a speedy method, but you may go through a trial-and-error process before achieving the correct results. For this type of compost, you first need a place of 1 cubic meter and a thermometer. Before starting the compost, make sure that all green and brown materials are nearby and cut into pieces. Sprinkle a shovel full of pre-stuck compost or soil at the bottom of the bucket. Then arrange the materials you have, one layer of brown and one layer of green, in layers of 10-15 inches thick. Add accelerator materials such as rock dust, coal, and water among them.
Hot compost temperature moves between 49-77 degrees for the first few days and then goes below 43 degrees. At this point, it is necessary to mix it well to add oxygen. When combined, the temperature of the compost rises again, and after a few days, it drops below 43 degrees. If the compost does not heat up sufficiently while hot composting, the amount of nitrogen may be low. In this case, you can add green materials to increase it. If it overheats, it means the amount of nitrogen is too much. In which case, you can aerate it more often and add material with carbon content. If you mix and rest it for about four times, by the end of a month, you will see a dark-colored compost with the desired consistency. The temperature of the compost would be below 29 degrees, and after two weeks of rest, it will be ready for use.
Things to look out for
Some materials should not be included in the compost. These are leftover greasy food, sowed herbs, tea and coffee bags, and of course plastics, and stuffed paper, cleaning materials that we wouldn’t want to see in the soil. Especially in cold compost, animal products such as meat, fish, milk, and citrus should not be used.
The moisture in the compost should be like a damp sponge. If you add a lot of water, microorganisms will suffocate and die. Compost does not form from the materials; they decay, leaving their nutrients behind. You can measure the temperature with a thermometer or check the middle with your hand. The compost should feel warm to your touch.
Your compost is ready when it stops warming up, seems insect-free, is fragrant with a texture like chocolate cake. You can add your compost to your potted flowers, fruit, and vegetables in your garden to give them a nutritious boost and return wasted ingredients to nature.