Making compost is just like cooking from scrap – satisfying and a way to save money by feeding the veggies and flowers in your garden that in turn will feed your family and give you beautiful roses.
How much compost can you make from one pound of waste?
Depending on the method used, you could obtain a quantity of compost that is equal to the amount of waste that was used, but the results depend entirely on what goes in the compost and the method that you used to obtain it.
Compost requires biodegradable waste, a base and moisture (water).
Some of the water will evaporate, but the total weight of the compost will always be variable, if you are making it at home, and not in a highly controlled environment.
Contrary to popular belief, compost doesn’t smell bad, if it does it means that you did something wrong. It should have an earthy smell, similar to the one that you would find in a forest.
What exactly is compost and how does it work?
Compost can be made from a multitude of organic elements. Basically, anything that appeared in nature can be turned into compost.
When you make compost, you are recreating what happens in nature, but you get to control the process and to speed it up by creating the perfect environment for microorganisms to develop and break down matter.
Depending on the conditions that you create, your compost will become viable faster or slower and it will have different qualities.
Once you start it, you can add to it and modify its composition until it will transform into exactly what you need.
In the organic compost starter pile, bacteria, fungi, nematodes and other organisms develop and start breaking down the organic material.
By doing this they create heat, the pile becomes warm and the acidity level inside of it increases.
This becomes the perfect environment for soil bacteria to develop, and it also kills pathogens and weed seeds. But this happens at the very core of the compost pile, so the pile must be turned occasionaly.
Slowly, but certainly, compost becomes nutritious for soil and a great addition to your garden.
Why do people make compost at home?
There can be a few reasons for which someone would decide to make compost.
- They want to protect the environment
- They want to grow veggies or flowers and offer them great nutrition
- They need a base for their lawn
- They treat it as a science project
- They are gardeners
- They sell compost to gardeners or they help gardeners dispose of vegetable waste
Making compost minimizes the amount of organic waste that a household disposes of, and it helps with minimizing their footprint.
Also, there are states that won’t allow the disposal of garden waste on landfills, so compost is a natural and efficient way to repurpose certain byproducts.
How can I make compost at home?
If you have a garden, it will be easier to create compost piles. If you live in an apartment, you can still make compost, but in smaller quantities.
In fact, if you make it inside, you will obtain results faster, because you can control the environmental temperature.
There are many ways of composting, but we will give you the steps that you need to follow for the easiest alternative.
Step 1- Gather kitchen scraps
When you cook and peel a carrot or some potatoes, put the scraps and all the vegetable and fruit bits in a small, clean bin.
Step 2 – Make a pile
You can use a large bin, a solid crate, or just a place on the ground.
Put some dry soil and dry leaves on the bottom of the pile and then throw in the kitchen scraps.
You will need to add green veggies, like weeds, leaves or grass, to build up nitrogen and start the process.
Add some fiber to the pile like cardboard, paper, straw or other dried weeds.
Make sure that your compost is always moist. It should feel damp, but not wet. Use water to add moisture and make sure that it never dries off.
Blend everything together.
You can use a shovel or a tool designed for this.
It’s important that the ingredients are in contact with each other, as this will feed the bacteria that is doing all the hard work of breaking down food into compost.
Turn the pile.
In order to give the bacteria oxygen, the pile must be turned and moved around. By doing this, you are exposing it to air and you will be avoiding the development of too much anaerobic bacteria.
Do this every week, and when you do it, check to see if it needs more water.
Use the compost when it’s done.
It can take your compost up to three months to form, even more if the climate is cold. Once it’s ready you can throw it in the garden or use it to plant something in it.
Ideally, you should leave it in the garden, exposed to air, for a while, and then use it.
This step will add other soil-friendly bacteria and will help to eliminate the excessive hydrogen that builds up when plant-based organisms break down.
Can I use cat or dog litter?
No, never use cat or dog litter in your compost. These could carry pathogens that can survive the composting bacteria and can infiltrate in the soil and spread to other animals.
The use of manure should be done with care, and only using the one that comes from certain animals like cows or horses.
What else should I not use in my compost?
Even if compost can be made from anything organic, it’s important to keep it safe for humans.
This is why you should stay away from certain compost ingredients that can be carriers for disease like Salmonella, Listeria or Botulism.
Never add to your compost:
- Meat or bones, or any type of animal products
- Fish or fish derivatives
- Grease, fat or oil
Now that you have a general idea about how much compost you can obtain from your waste, you can start working on it and planning what to do with it once it’s done.