We’re constantly being urged to start home composting in order to recycle more of our organic garden and household waste. But do you know the reasons why you should start home composting? You might also be wondering what the benefits are and how easy it is to get started.
In this article I’ve put together some of my top composting tips and tricks so that you can learn why you should start home composting. The inside knowledge I are about to share with you comes from many years of experience in successfully making garden compost at home.
With this knowledge you will be able to stop sending your organic waste to landfill and start making your own home compost.
What is compost and how is it made
Composting is a natural process. It is nature’s way of feeding the soil and replenishing it with the nutrients required for plant growth. The soil would very quickly become depleted and plants would be unable to grow if there were no nutrients.
Soil microorganisms and earthworms break down organic materials such as dead leaves, plants and animals into compost. When these materials have properly broken down, the nutrients in the compost are in a form that plants can absorb. The nutrients feed the growing plants and the process starts all over again.
Why you should start home composting
Making compost at home is one way to reduce the amount of household waste goes into landfill sites. It also provides you with an inexpensive way to replenish the soil nutrients in your garden without buying expensive fertilizers.
Besides saving money on fertilizer and reducing waste in the landfills, here are some more reasons why you should start home composting.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Waste that ends up in landfills produces a harmful greenhouse gas called methane. This gas is produced when oxygen is unable to reach the organic waste. As a result there is no microbial activity involved in the decomposition of the waste material. This is called anaerobic decomposition.
In contrast, composting at home produces no methane. Home composting ensures an adequate supply of oxygen for the microorganisms during decomposition. This is called aerobic decomposition.
Less need for waste disposal vehicles
Composting at home means there is less waste to be collected. As a result fewer waste collection vehicles are required. This will lead to a reduction in the use of expensive fossil fuels and a decline in damaging greenhouse gas emissions and less air pollution.
Reduction in fertilizer runoff
If you use home-made compost instead of bought fertilizer on your garden it means there is less fertilizer getting into our rivers, lakes, and oceans. The nitrates in fertilizer are responsible for creating large algae blooms in our waterways. These consume and remove the oxygen from the water causing “dead zones” which cannot sustain fish and other marine life.
One such “dead zone” exists in the Gulf of Mexico. It is approximately 6474 square miles in size. This is equivalent to Connecticut and Rhode Island.
We’ve given you a few reasons why you should start home composting your organic waste. Here are a few tips about the right kind of things to compost and what you might not want to compost.
Some things you can compost
This list is not all-inclusive but it does give you some ideas to get you started.
- Vegetable and fruit peelings
- Coffee grounds and the filter paper
- Rotten fruit
- House plants
- Leaves and grass clippings
- Tea bags and tea leaves
- Toilet paper rolls (torn up)
- Eggshells (crushed)
- Old bedding plants
- Pet hair
- Brown paper bags (torn up)
- Vacuum cleaner contents
- Dryer lint from natural fibers
- Shredded paper
- Torn up cardboard
Most of these items will compost readily but it may take some time for them to fully rot down. Shred larger items to speed up the composting process. Do this by hand using secateurs or shears, or run a mower over things like leaves and plants. Cut up vegetable trimmings.peeling and kitchen waste into small pieces with a knife or scissors before composting.If you have a large amount of material to compost it might be worth investing in a garden shredder. You can see some here.
Things you might not want to compost
- Pet litter and waste materials. Only compost these at high temperatures. This is because humans can become infected with animal diseases through contact with these materials.
- Animal waste. Compost animal dung separately. Only use material from an organic farm or establishment. Also animal medicines are often excreted and can do damage to crops grown in the ground on which they are spread.
- Cooked meat, vegetables, dairy products, bread, rice or pasta. These items can attract vermin such as rats, mice and flies etc. If you have a hot compost bin with a secure lid then you can compost these successfully.
- These take years to break down, even with a hot compost bin. Fish and animal bones attract unwanted wildlife to your compost heap.
- Weeds with seeds. An ordinary open domestic compost pile does not get hot enough to kill weed seeds. The best way is to put the weeds on a plastic sheet and leave them in the sun for a few days to kill the seeds and then compost them. Alternatively, cut down the weeds before they set seed and compost them safely.
- Treated wood. The chemicals used to treat wood against rotting are harmful to most plants.
As you can see, composting the right kind of organic waste materials at home will significantly reduce the amount of material going to landfill. It will provide you with some lovely compost to feed your soil and also save you money. It will also benefit the planet in many ways so that you can feel good that you are doing your bit to help nature.