As a gardener and urban farmer you come to appreciate and treasure compost, or as I affectionately call it, “Black Gold”.
Composting itself is actually pretty easy and there are several methods and solutions. Whether you own a full-on farm, or live in a tiny apartment, there is no reason you can’t or shouldn’t be composting.
In a world obsessed with “greening,” it’s scary to think about how much food we throw away. A friend of mine started a small scale composting business last year by collecting food scraps from local restaurants and was able to save 111.3 tons of food waste from ending up in the dump and turned it into glorious, nitrogen rich compost. If that’s not motivation to start composting, I don’t know what is!
Here a few of the options available when composting.
The most straightforward way of composting involves dedicating an area, usually 25 sq. ft or so to being a compost pit, any larger and it makes it pretty difficult to aerate. You start by adding layers of organic material, usually browns (old leaves, bark, etc) followed by greens (grass cuttings and vegetable scraps) topped by soil. Continue on building the layers until it’s around 4 to 5 ft high and then turn it every 2-3 days with a fork for the first month, keeping it moist, but not wet. After the first month taper off till you’re turning once or twice a month and in 3-4 months you’ll have a soil-ready compost, less if you decide to add a commercially available compost activator. See more at Nature Hacks.
Also known as the “no turn” method. It’s similar to the layered method above, but the idea is you have three bins, you keep adding to the first until it’s full, then move to the next bin. While it’s the most effortless method, it’s also the longest and it can take as long as 3 years to decompose! See more at Backyard Feast
If, like me, you don’t have three years to wait around you can combine the first two methods together, turning twice a week and making sure that the heap remains warm.
Trenching, as discussed in our DIY garden beds post, trenching is a way of composting by digging a trench roughly 3-feet deep and filling it with compostable scraps, covering them with alternate layers of soil. Once completed leave them for 2-3months to break down and then plant your vegetables directly into the bed. See more at Good Life Garden
Worm Composting, and vermicomposting yield nutrient-rich castings, and probably the most fertile soil of the above methods, the downside is that it’s not as scalable as the above methods, but perfect for small gardens and apartment dwellers. Red wriggler earthworms are used to break down kitchen scraps into these castings and nutrient-rich worm tea, which can be used as an organic fertilizer. The downside is that the worms don’t have a large appetite so you can’t feed them a lot of food at once, you should also avoid all types of citrus, meat, or onions when feeding them. The plus side is that it’s also one of the least odorous methods of composting and why it’s become popular with many apartment dwellers using it to clear off kitchen scraps.