Are you looking to start composting? So was I! This blog post is all about how and why I got started composting and how you can too.
Now that Spring has officially arrived, I have had the serious itch to get outside and start tending to our run-down garden. I’ve mentioned in previous posts, but if you didn’t know, my husband and I moved to our little farm in July 2020 after living in a skoolie for over two years. A garden was already established, surrounded with 10 ft deer fencing, but it definitely needed some serious tending to.
Thank goodness for the internet and other bloggers who have been my friends for the past few weeks as I have been researching all about gardening. In my research, I found a lot of gardeners have their own compost piles that they use in their gardens. I’ve always thought about composting but never took the time to research it, so now was the time! I went on a deep dive, and now I’ve got my very own compost bin working its magic in my garden.
So, what is compost?
In short, compost is decomposed organic materials. It is made from brown materials, such as leaves, wood chips, and cardboard, and green materials, such as grass clippings, veggie scraps, and coffee grounds.
What are the benefits of composting?
1.Composting cuts down on waste. I started my compost pile about a month ago now, and I have noticed a significant decrease in how much I am throwing away. Before I started composting, we would throw away about three full kitchen bags a week, but now, we are only throwing away 1-2 bags per week. Not only are we sending less trash to the landfill, but we are saving money on our garbage bill.
2.It is good for the environment. By composting your food and yard waste, you can reduce methane emissions from organic waste which would normally be sent to a landfill. It also offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.
3.It is amazing for your plants. Compost, also known as Black Gold, is incredible for growing your plants. It is filled with nutrients, promotes soil microbes that aid plant growth and research has shown that it can help some plants fight common diseases.
How to get started composting
1.Decide on a compost bin and/or location. The easiest, least expensive way to start your pile is directly on the ground which is a great method if you have space. Make sure that you have at least three square feet of flat, outdoor space with good drainage. If you have a garden, make sure your compost is nearby which will make things easier when it comes time to use the compost for planting. If you do choose this route, you will want to consider putting up chicken wire or fencing around it to keep the critters out.
Another option is to choose a compost bin. There are so many bins to choose from. A few different types include:
- Standard bin – These are usually made of plastic or wood that has four walls and a lid, but the bottom is open so that your compost sits directly on the dirt. These are great to keep animals out and make for a more aesthetic look in small spaces.
- DIY – Hop on Pinterest and search “DIY Compost Bin” and I promise you will have more than enough ideas to create something to suit your specific needs.
- Tumblers – Tumblers have many perks to them. They contain the mess and odor, speed up the composting process, can be used year-round, keep critters out, make it easy to turn your compost, and can be used almost anywhere (apartment or house with space).
I decided on creating my own compost bin with resources I already owned. I took an old stock tank, drilled holes in the bottom, positioned it on two 4x4s for easy drainage, and that’s it!
2.Start composting. So now that you have decided on a location and compost bin, it is time to start composting. The key ratio is two brown materials to one green material. Click below for a downloadable cheat sheet.
- Make sure your materials are in small pieces. This will help speed the process up.
- Keep your compost moist, but not too moist. If you live in a rainy climate, cover the top of the pile so it does not get too wet.
- Turn your pile about once a week – this will help the decomposing process. To turn your pile, simply use a shovel or pitchfork and mix up your materials. This will help break down the materials and fluff up your pile creating little air pockets helping supply microbes throughout.
- You will know your compost is ready to use when it looks like rich dark soil with an earthy smell.
- Purchase or make a small compost bin to live in your kitchen. I purchased a small metal bin from Amazon that sits on top of my fridge. I chose a bin that has a charcoal filter in the lid to eliminate odors. After using it for about a month now, I can safely say it works perfectly containing all of its odors. Bonus: It is super cute and matches my kitchen decor. Having it in my kitchen makes it easier to remember to compost food waste. I can usually go 5-7 days until it is full, then I just walk it out to my garden to add to my compost bin.
This is my first time composting, but I am super excited about it! It has been so interesting reading all about the process contributing to my pile everyday. It may seem like a daunting task to get started, but once you get it going, it is super easy and I find it fun!