Many homeowners have heard about compost, but not everyone understands how exactly it works. According to Wikipedia, compost is “organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment”. Nearly any food or yard waste, such as dinner leftovers, grass clippings, old leaves, rotten vegetables or fruit peels, can make your perfect compost. This kind of waste makes up anywhere from a quarter to a half of what most people throw away. So, what are the benefits of composting?
Free Organic Fertilizer
First of all, composting benefits your soil like nothing else. It helps soil retain water and nutrients, such as phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and numerous trace minerals. Moreover, it improves soil aeration and suppresses weed growth. It is especially recommended if you plan to grow your own fresh organic produce. Just imagine how much you would save if you no longer needed to pay for high-quality organic fertilizers. Thus, another obvious advantage shows up – saving money. Instead of throwing your overcooked broccoli in the trash can, give it a new purpose by dumping it in your compost bin. By the way, it may be a good idea to have a nice, tightly closed and isolated compost bin in your back yard. Keeping your organic waste as an unburied pile or in an open container will attract rabbits, squirrels, birds and other wild animals.
Another benefit of composting is that it’s a no-effort process. All you’ll need to do is put your organic waste in the compost bin and Mother Nature will do all the work for you. Bacteria and fungi break down the organic matter creating carbon dioxide and heat. Compost can reach temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit as it brews. Later, worms and slugs join the process. They eat and digest the decomposing matter. After the compost finds its way out of the worms’ guts, it becomes a perfect fertilizer for your soil.
Reducing Environmental Risks
Another benefit of composting is that you can help the environment by keeping compostable waste out of landfills. Food waste and regular trash mixed together produce landfill methane – a greenhouse gas that is 72% more powerful than carbon dioxide. Composting reduces the amount of landfill methane pumped into the atmosphere.
Compost is a great mulch. It will help your soil retain water and protect it from drying out. That means you add another environmental benefit of reducing your water usage. Plus, it will also lower your water bills.
To Compost or Not To Compost
Make sure you only put compostable items into your compost bin.
A simple rule: anything that was once alive is compostable. That includes:
- Food scraps and leftovers (except for animal products)
- Plant trimmings (leaves, grass clippings, woodchips, etc)
- Most paper products: These can be both recyclable and compostable. It is always better to recycle paper and cardboard that can be recycled. However, composting can be the best option for non-recyclable paper, such as greasy pizza boxes, soiled napkins and tissues, used paper plates and cartons. Tear up paper and cardboard into small pieces before tossing it in your compost bin.
Definitely, things that did not come from something that was once alive cannot be composted. Some types of paper with strong dyes, inks and other chemicals, such as glossy magazines and wrapping paper, should not be either composted or recycled. You should also avoid animal products, such as meat, fat, milk, eggs, bones or fish in your backyard compost bin. These products harbor some harmful bacteria and require a much more complex process for composting. Even worse, this type of food waste can draw in flies, mice, skunks and other unwanted scavengers.
When Is Compost Ready
The decomposition process usually takes a few months, when bacteria and worms have digested all there was to digest. The compost pile will shrink up to one half of its original volume. It will no longer resemble a raw material. In other words, you will not be able to see what the compost originally consisted of. It will no longer have stinky sour odor. Instead, the compost will have a homogenous crumbly texture and a rich earthy smell. Now, it is ready for fertilizing.
A professional from Carolina Lawn will share more useful composting tips with you and apply your ready-to-use compost on your garden and lawn soil. If you don’t want to embark on this project yet, Carolina Lawn will use best organic fertilizers to enrich your soil with necessary nutrients.
Photo Attribute: Freeimages.com: MangoTheThird, B.B.