What You Need To Know About Composting At Home
Many people use composting to make the most of their waste when looking for easy ways to start a more sustainable lifestyle. But what is compostable? Many daily household items and food scraps can be composted, but before we delve deeper, let's ensure we know what composting is. If you are curious about how and what composting is, keep reading. You will also learn what and what cannot be composted. Starting a home composting is an excellent way to make rich soil amendments from vegetables to flower gardens and indoor plants.
Composting at home has many benefits, including significantly reducing your carbon footprint, creating nutrient-rich soil perfect for gardening, and reducing landfill waste. It's also incredibly simple and requires only a compost bin or pile, food scraps, yard waste, and patience. By selecting a location for your compost bin that is both convenient and receives ample sunlight, layering your food scraps and yard waste, and keeping your compost moist and aerated, you can have vibrant and fertile soil in just a few short months. Composting is an easy and effective way to help create a more sustainable future for our planet.
What Do You Need To Start Composting At Home?
Composting at home is an easy and eco-friendly way to reduce waste and improve soil quality. You can start by collecting food scraps, yard waste, and other organic materials in a compost bin, which can be purchased or made from materials such as wood pallets or chicken wire. The key to successful composting is maintaining a balanced mix of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials and keeping the compost moist and aerated. Over time, the organic matter will break down into a rich, nutrient-dense soil amendment that can be used to nourish plants and vegetables in your garden. Plus, composting can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and landfill waste, making it a win-win for both you and the environment.
What Is Composting?
What does composting mean? According to NRDC, Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. Micro and macro-organisms like bacteria and earthworms break down the waste material. Once the waste matter is broken down, the compost remains can be used as an organic fertilizer in raised or inground garden beds to enrich the soil. Plus, the compost naturally deters harmful weeds and insects. Compost contains many benefits; it is a natural and cost-effective way to improve the earth around you, which is what we are after. While you can purchase compost at your local Home Depot or garden center, you can also make your compost at home with food leftovers.
DIY Composting At Home: What is the best way to compost at home?
You will want to start by combining components high in carbon and nitrogen to ensure your compost mix has the right balanced amount of nutrients. Carbon materials, often called “browns,” can be anything from yard scraps like leaves, mulch, compostable coffee filters, paper, and cardboard. Nitrogen materials, often called “greens,” include food scraps, carrots, onion skins, banana peels, salad greens, and coffee grounds.
Generally, the compost will produce enough moisture without intervention. Still, you will sometimes need to add small amounts of water, especially in a dry and hot climate, like Texas heat. The ratio of materials is also essential. Therefore, the ideal balance is 30:1, 30 parts carbon/browns to 1 part nitrogen/greens. Also, one of the easiest ways to know what your compost lacks is by the material consistency. For example, add more browns if the pile looks slimy or has a strong odor. On the other hand, if the pile seems dry and hard to mix, add more greens.
There are several options to host your compost in, like an outdoor pile, tumbler, auto home compost machine, or indoor bin. Note: There should never be an odor when adequately balanced. Therefore, you can have a successful compost regardless of your home type.
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Vermicomposting or Traditional Composting What's The Difference?
Another thing to consider when composting is to decide between vermicomposting, aka composting with worms, or more traditional composting without using worms. However, remember that the composting process is not an overnight success, and organic matter is transformed into compost via microorganisms, soil fauna, enzymes, and fungi. When making home compost, you must provide the best conditions for these beneficial organisms to do their work. Raised garden beds are excellent for vermicomposting because you can access your vermi compost easily.
If you do so, the decomposition process works rapidly—sometimes in at least two weeks. If you don't provide the ideal environment, decomposition will still occur, but it may take several months to years to mature to “black gold” status. However, with vermicomposting, the compost typically creates faster, usually roughly half the time. Nonetheless, if you opt to do it, it's such a good feeling to repurpose your household scraps and yard trash. Plus, it is much better for the environment and your sustainable garden!
Composting is a terrific way to reduce household waste with the benefit of helping the planet. This list is incomplete, but it provides a good foundation for what materials you can prevent from ending up in a landfill. Since landfills do not separate inorganic matter from organic materials, compostable waste does have the chance to break down adequately.
Common Compost Ingredients
My Above Ground Garden and Vermi Composter. My worms survived a wicked ice storm we had in Central Texas, and they are thriving. I have had issues with trying to get into my compost, but I have been able to keep them out using natural products like coffee grounds and diatomaceous earth. Although, when using diatomaceous earth, be careful you don't get it where bees will be collecting pollen.
High Carbon “Browns”
High Nitrogen “Greens”
- Corncobs and Stalks
- Pine Needles
- Vegetable Stalks
- Dry Leaves
- Brown paper bags
- Uncoated cardboard
- Sawdust Or Wood Shavings
- Eggshells (dry and crush for faster decomposition)
- Parchment paper
- Wooden skewers
- Grease-free paper towels
- Unbleached coffee filters
- Grape stems
- Stale or expired dry goods (Ex: dry rice, pasta, cereal, granola, bread)
- Natural fiber clothing (Ex: cotton, hemp, linen. No blends!)
- Cotton balls
- Pencil shavings
- Human Hair
- Animal fur
- Coffee Grounds
- Fruit Wastes – Non-acidic fruit peels (Apples, bananas, mangos, plums)
- Grass Clippings
- Feathers or Hair
- Fresh Leaves
- Kitchen Scraps
- Fresh weeds
- Rotted Manure
- Alfalfa Meal
- Vegetable scraps (Potatoes, carrots, cabbage, lettuce)
- Corn husks
- Grass clippings
- Expired jams or preserves
- Expired condiments (avoid excess of tomato-based products)
- Deadheaded flowers
Tumbleweed Worm Buffet Outdoor Inground Raised Garden Bed Vermicompost Bin
To use the Tumbleweed 12 Recycled Plastic Worm Composter, Dig a 16 x 16-inch hole directly anywhere in your garden or raised garden bed, and stick this in-ground lidded composter in the hole. You will only see the top of the composter, and you can still recycle food and other scraps! The composter is designed for recycling 2.5 to 4.5 pounds of kitchen waste weekly.
An in-ground composter works similarly to the other brand worm bins: Add moist (which should feel like a wet sponge) bedding and worms, and let gigglers do their work. What happens next is the worms deposit their castings directly into your garden, moving out when their feed is gone and back in when new food scraps arrive. You don't need to empty the container like with its above-ground counterparts, and it's made in Australia using 100% recycled plastic.
Compost Kitchen Scraps Simple and Easy to Install
- Compact and easy composting
- Suitable for all gardens, even raised garden beds and balcony gardens
- Composts organic waste fast
- Locking Lid
- Made with Recycled Plastic
What Shouldn't You Put In Your Home Composting Bin?
You should avoid all grease, oil, or butter, which will only affect your compost negatively by attracting pests and offset your moisture ratio. Other types of food groups to avoid putting into your compost pile are animal products like meat, dairy, and bones. Because these foods will ferment, attract critters, and not break down, especially if you have worms in your compost pile. Also, it is crucial not to add anything with chemicals, such as blended fabrics, treated wood, glossy paper, metals, or single use plastics.
Composting is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with what materials are sitting in landfills and cannot be broken down entirely. For instance, instead of buying tea bags because they cannot be recycled or composted, swap to a loose-leaf tea or one with fully compostable packaging; otherwise, they will end up in a landfill. Awareness is half the battle when taking measures to care for the environment; the next step is to find alternatives and make different choices. It is also essential to be mindful that even though product packaging may be labeled as compostable, it sometimes only applies to industrial compost setups, not home compost, for example, with common bioplastics like compostable plastic cutlery or single use products.
If you toss these items in your home compost, the bioplastics and materials will not thoroughly break down. Nonetheless, you can find local industrial composters in your area using this website, Find a Composter.
Is Vermicomposting or Composting At Home Worth It?
Yes, composting at home is worth it. Whether compost in a bin, compost bin countertop, or vermicompost. Vego garden worm composter and the Tumbleweed Worm Farm are a below-ground vermicomposting option that is smell-proof, pest-proof, and effective at creating and maintaining the perfect compost. They make composting part of daily life with its easy-to-use system, from worm composters to raised garden beds! I bought my worms, and everything I needed to get my worm farm started from Uncle Jim's worm farm.
Creating a zero waste kitchen compost is a great way to reduce food waste and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. With a little effort, you can create a zero waste kitchen that benefits the environment and helps you save money on gardening supplies.