How to Make Compost at Home for Gardening?

Compost is an organic material that can help plants grow. Composting could be better than throwing away food scraps and yard waste. These materials are kept out of landfills by making compost. 

What is Composting?

Composting is a win-win situation for both plants and the planet. It enriches the soil, provides nutrients, and reduces the risk of developing diseases. It makes a significant change in your daily habits to start a compost bin.

Three ingredients are required for composting:

  • Browns – It includes dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
  • Greens – It includes materials like grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
  • Water – It is essential to have the right amount of water. 

You should have equal amounts of greens and browns in your compost pile. Alternate layers of organic material of different sizes should be used in your compost pile. The brown materials are carbon, while the green materials give nitrogen. Water provides the required moisture that helps to break down the organic matter.

Why Compost?

  1. If your current service doesn’t offer food or garden waste collection, your waste will be sent to the landfill.
  2. Methane is a greenhouse gas that forms when organic material, such as garden waste or food waste, is disposed of in a landfill. This contributes to climate change.
  3. You can compost some of the organic material at home. In addition, you will receive fertilizer and plant pots for your garden to keep it looking great.

What to Compost?

There are various waste products that you can add to your organic compost bin. You can add the following items to your compost.

  • Teabags
  • Aquarium plants
  • Paper napkins and towels
  • Popcorn that has not been popped or roasted
  • Cardboard and paper plates (small, uncoated pieces)
  • Toothpicks and wooden chopsticks
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and coffee filters
  • Cotton and wool rugs
  • Nutshells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Hair and fur
  • Ashes for fireplaces
  • Yard trimmings
  • Spices and herbs
  • Clippings of grass
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips

What Not to Compost? 

  • Chemical pesticides – May kill beneficial composting organisms
  • Oils, fats, grease, lard, or other oils – Attract pests like rodents and flies by creating a foul odor.
  • Dairy products (butter, milk, yogurt) and eggs – Attract pests like rodents and flies by creating a foul odour.
  • Black walnut tree leaves and twigs – Releases substances that could be harmful to plants
  • Charcoal ash or coal – Could contain substances that are harmful to plants.
  • Plants infested with insects or diseases – Insects and diseases might survive and be transmitted to other plants.
  • Pet wastes (e.g., cat or dog feces, soiled cat bedding) – Could contain pathogens, parasites, viruses, bacteria, and germs that could harm human health.
  • Meat, fish bones, and scraps – Attract pests like rodents and flies by creating a foul odour.

Read 11 Things You Should Never Place in Your Compost Bin for details.

Benefits of Composting

  • Compost enriches the soil and helps to retain moisture.
  • This reduces the need to use chemical fertilizers.
  • Encourages the growth of beneficial fungi and bacteria, which break down organic matter to make humus a rich source of nutrients.
  • This reduces methane emissions and carbon footprint.

Types of Composting

There are many ways to make compost piles. We have listed some of the most popular methods. You can use pitchforks, square point shovels, or machetes as helpful tools. The compost can be maintained by regular mixing and turning it.

Backyard Composting

Things to consider:

  • Choose a dry and shaded spot near water sources for your compost bin or pile.
  • As you collect the materials, add brown and green items. Make sure to chop or shred any larger pieces.
  • After your compost pile has been established, add grass clippings to the pile. Then, bury vegetable and fruit scraps under 10 inches of compost.
  • Optional: To keep your compost moist, cover it with a tarp. 
  • Your compost is ready for use when the bottom material is darkened and rich in color. It usually takes between 2 months to 2 years.

Indoor Composting

You can compost indoors if you don’t have enough space to make a compost pile. Keep track of what you put in and how often you tend to your compost pile. A well-managed compost bin won’t attract rodents or pests and will smell good. The indoor compost should be ready within two to five-week.

How to Make Compost at Home With Kitchen Waste?  (Step-by-Step Guide)

Each gardener is unique so that you can choose the best composting method for your needs. It doesn’t matter what route you take; composting at your home is easy and very environmentally friendly. It’s also an excellent treat for your garden. You can have the happiest garden in the neighbourhood with just a few scraps of your kitchen and some patience.

  1. Combine Brown and Green Materials

Make your own hot-compost pile by waiting until you have enough material to create a pile that is at least three feet in depth. Combine dry, brown items with your wet (green) materials. Brown materials are dried plant materials and shredded tree branches. These materials add carbon. These green materials include kitchen scraps and coffee grounds, animal manures, and fresh plant and grass cuttings. These materials add nitrogen. 

Mix three parts of brown material with one part of green materials to build your compost pile for the best results. Add more brown materials to your compost pile or aerate it more often if it smells and looks too dry. To make your compost pile look moister, you can add water and green items.

  1. Water Your Compost Pile

Regularly sprinkle water on the compost pile to give it the consistency of a sponge. Do not add too much water to your compost pile, or it will become waterlogged and drown. Your compost pile may turn to rot if it is too wet. To ensure that the compost is appropriately decomposing, you can monitor its temperature with a thermometer. You can also reach in the middle of the compost pile by simply reaching out with your hand. The compost pile should be warm.

  1. Stir Your Compost Pile

You should turn the compost pile once per week during the growing season with a garden knife. When the compost pile is warm, or when a thermometer measures between 130 and 150° F, it is time to turn it. The compost pile will cook faster if it is stirred regularly. It will also prevent the material from getting matted with an unpleasant odour. The brown and green layers are done. It’s okay to mix the two materials thoroughly.

  1. Compost is Ready To Feed Your Garden

The compost pile is fully cooked when it stops emitting heat and turns brown and crumbly. At the start of each season, add about 4 to 6 inches worth of compost to your flower gardens.

A compost tea made with finished compost is a common gardener’s method. It involves letting fully-formed compost “steep” in water over several days before straining it to be used as a homemade fertilizer.

Also Read –

Composting Tips 

  1. There are a few foods you cannot compost.

Before you begin using a composting service to help you, make sure you read their rules about what you can and cannot add to your compost. If you compost by yourself and don’t have much space outside, make sure not to include any items that could attract pests. Meat, dairy, bones, and pet feces should be avoided, as these items are more likely to attract pests, particularly in urban areas. All fruits and vegetables can be safely incorporated into your compost. Eggshells, which are rich in calcium, are fine. Whole eggs are not allowed. You can only add small quantities of processed foods like bread and rice to your compost. Otherwise, it won’t be properly decomposed. 

  1. Dry scraps will also be needed.

Your compost will not decompose efficiently if it becomes too moist. You need to keep your compost moist throughout the process by adding dry carbon sources (also known as browns). You can add browns to newspapers, cardboard, egg cartons, and leaves. However, you should avoid bleached items (like white paper towels) or waxy (like milk containers). The carbon sources are vital because they perform four functions: aerate the compost, keep it moist, prevent pests, and mask odours. Your compost will eventually break down if it has the right amount of browns.

  1. You can make composting more successful by layering lasagna.

Lasagna layering contributes a lot to composting success. This requires you to layer food scraps, carbon sources, and sauce just like you would with lasagna noodles. This will protect pests from odours and mask odours. The final layer should consist of a thick layer of brown carbon sources. The mixture should not become too moist or dry by having an even number of greens and browns.

  1. Good drainage and aeration are also important.

Compost needs oxygen for proper decomposition. It’s even more beneficial to see into the bin to ensure that there are no pests or moisture issues. 

  1. Once you have everything set up, you are ready to go.

Outdoor composting using bins requires that you regularly rake and flip your compost to aid in its decomposition. This will speed up the composting process. Although stirring or moving the compost to another container will speed up its decomposition, this is unnecessary if the volume you are trying to reduce is small. It would be best to wait until the compost is almost complete before turning it over. It may take some time for your compost to start filling up if you are only processing the food waste you produce.

The faster the compost decomposes, the hotter it is and how often you stir it. This means it will take longer to break down when temperatures are lower during the winter. You will end up with beautiful, nutritious compost that you can use for all your plants, as long as you don’t add too many browns to the scraps. Once you start composting, it will take about a year for the contents to be completely decomposed if they are not touched and a few months if it is stirred regularly.

Also Read –

Common Composting Mistakes To Avoid

The ultimate recycling activity is composting. It reduces the amount of garbage we dump into our landfills and transforms it into one of your garden’s most effective soil boosters. Mix water, air, and yard trimmings, and wait for the magic to happen. 

Making compost is not rocket science, but there is some science involved. Making mistakes can cause frustration and even lead to severe problems. You’ll reap the benefits of avoiding these common mistakes in composting and will be rewarded with your own “black gold”!

Mistake 1 # Have Only 1 Pile or 1 Bin

You should always have at least two piles or a double chamber bin so that while your first batch is maturing, you can add more waste material to the second pile or bin chamber. One pile that is ready to use, another that is still in decomposition, and one where you are adding new wastes to. Sometimes, the top layer of a pile takes longer to decompose. In these cases, you can transfer the top layer to your working pile and use the compost below in your garden.

Mistake 2# Incorrect Balance of Browns and Greens

Many beginners make the mistake of not getting the correct balance of brown and fresh plant matter. High-carbon browns, such as dried leaves, straws, shredded papers, or sawdust, are required. The same goes for high-nitrogen material, fresh garden wastes, untreated clippings of grass, and food scraps, like vegetable peels and coffee grounds.

It is best to mix 3 parts brown and 1 part green. Too much green will result in a mushy and smelly mess. Too much brown can slow down decomposition. 

Mistake 3# Using Wrong Materials for Compost

Do not add animal-based food scraps to your compost bin or pile, such as seafood, meat, or dairy products. They will smell bad and attract pests such as rats. Soiled diapers and animal waste are not a good idea. They can also cause disease and are unsanitary. Avoid grass clippings that have been treated with weed killers or sawdust made from treated wood. They could add chemicals to the pile, which may cause harm to your garden plants. It is safer to remove any large weeds or diseased plants. While the heat of compost may kill some diseases, organisms, and weed seeds, most others will survive.

Mistake 4# Too Much or Too Little Water

Decomposition requires moisture. Your compost pile should feel warm and smell earthy. If the pile is too moist, the microbes won’t have enough oxygen to finish their work. This is usually evident when your pile becomes a soggy, smelly mess. To solve this problem, you can mix drier, fallen leaves, straw, or shredded paper. If your pile appears dry, you can add water to make it dampen.

Mistake 5# Leave Your Compost Pile Unopened

You can live without any cover if you have a large property. Covers are a good idea if you live near your neighbour’s house. Some municipalities may also require them in urban and suburban areas. Coverings can also help retain heat, which is particularly important in winter.

Covers are usually included with commercial bins. Use a simple sheet of plywood to cover your compost bin. If you are building your own compost bin, you can also use a tarp over your homemade wooden frame to dry your compost during rainy seasons. To ensure that your compost has plenty of oxygen, it’s best to leave a few inches between the cover and the top of the pile.

Mistake 6# Do Not Aerate

The pile’s center can become oxygen-starved as composting progress. The process of stirring the compost pile allows for air to reach all parts. You can use a pitchfork to stir up compost piles on the ground. You can also poke holes in the pile using a broom handle or piece of rebar. You should aerate a compost tumbler (a rotated container) but not overfill it. Otherwise, the compost won’t have room to move. There is no standard for how often you should aerate your compost tumbler, but it’s common to do so once or twice per week.

Mistake 7# Continue to Add to Your Compost Pile.

Your compost will not be ready for use if you continue to add material to your piles or bins. After you have gathered enough material, stop adding more. Depending on how hot it gets, it can take between three weeks to three months for the compost to be finished. You can speed up the process by shredding the material and aerating more frequently. Microbes can work faster if there is more surface area.

You may discover that some materials, such as corn cobs or eggshells, take longer to decompose than others. AGRIKULTURE TODAY recommends shifting the materials and throwing them in with any other batch. The finished compost is dark brown and crumbly and has an earthy odour. It’s now ready to be used in your garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make compost at home?

Place your compost bin in an area that is dry and close to water to add moisture to green and brown materials. You should combine three-quarters of the brown matter with one-third of the green matter in your compost bin. However, make sure you follow the instructions for your particular compost bin. The compost bin will be fertilized with nitrogen from green materials, while the compost bin will be fertilized with carbon-rich brown materials.
After achieving a good balance of carbon and nitrogen, add water to the compost mixture. It should look like a sponge. Are you finding your compost too soggy? Add more dry materials. Next, add more dry materials. It can take from several weeks to one year to make compost depending on the size of your compost bin and the material used. The compost should be dark brown and have an earthy smell.

What can you compost?

Composting needs nitrogen, carbon, and moisture. In other words, food scraps, yard waste, and water. The green waste is called “green,” while the brown waste is “brown .”Add water to green materials such as food scraps and grass clippings. You can even use coffee grounds. Examples of brown materials include dried leaves and shredded newspaper.

Do compost bins need to have air holes?

Proper ventilation is essential for composting because nitrogen and carbon are vital elements. Many indoor compost bins are equipped with tiny air holes that allow air to enter the container without attracting insects or releasing odours. For ventilation, outdoor bins often have slats on the sides to help decompose organic waste.

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