Investigate the World of Natural Composting

by : Reggie Andersen

In regards to organic gardening, composting satisfies one of the best ways to help Mother Nature create an all-natural mulch and nutrient-rich soil. As more and more people are discovering the inexpensive benefits of composting, they are able to abandon the harmful chemicals contained in commercial fertilizers. Compost is the natural breakdown of organic materials, which helps improve the structure, texture and water-holding capacity of existing soil.

The composting process is known to uplift the composition of lawns and gardens, as it promotes healthy root development in plants and enhances soil fertility. Backyard composting involves the progress and promotion of naturally occurring bacteria that transforms leaves, lawn clippings, kitchen scraps, and other organic wastes into rich, usable soil. In the end, composting recycles organic materials back into the earth, which is beneficial for yard and garden use. It also helps reduce unnecessary environmental waste by conserving space in local landfills.

An Example on How to Compost

Individuals find many different reasons why and ways on how to start composting. Some are motivated by the prospect of reducing their yard and garden waste, which often becomes a prominent ingredient within the composting process. Additionally, most procedures are pretty easy to follow. An example of how to start composting includes collecting enough material to establish a pile measuring one-cubic yard. The ideal combination of materials should equal a 30:1 carbon to-nitrogen ratio. The starting layer should consist of 4 to 6 inches of high-carbon items, such as paper, wood chips, leaves, or straw.

Next, a layer consisting of 4 to 6 inches of high-nitrogen materials is added. An example of this is animal manure, but vegetative kitchen wastes are also welcome. Grass clippings additionally fall into this category. When using food waste, an added thin layer of soil, leaves, or sawdust will absorb any odors. The next step is to mix the carbon- and nitrogen-containing layers, which helps distribute a good and even blend.

A "squeeze" test will help determine the moisture content of the compost. Water is added until squeezing a handful of compost produces one to two drops of water. It is important to remember that adding too much water causes nutrients to escape. The layers of a compost pile are then alternated and mixed until the heap is about 3 to 4 feet tall. In about a week, the pile should reach temperatures close to 110 degrees and needs to be turned with a shovel and watered when dry.

Acceptable Composting Materials

Some people are curious as to what sorts of materials are acceptable for composting. Since the average household produces more than 200 pounds of kitchen waste per year, these items make perfect additions to composting. Melon rinds, tea bags, apple cores, and banana peels are highly recommended. High-fat foods, dairy, and meat waste are discouraged because they smell awful in the sun and attract unwanted pests.

Grass clippings are a must, as they quickly break down and contain just as much nitrogen as manure. Garden waste, such as wilted flowers and decaying plants are suggested, while paying careful attention to avoiding the use of weeds and their seeds. Wood ashes (wood burning stove or fireplace) are acceptable, but coal ashes are not because they often contain high levels of sulfur and iron. Additional composting ingredients include pine needles, spoiled hay or straw, the manure of vegetarian animals, and seaweed.