Ever thought of giving composting a go? It’s never too late to learn how. In this guest post, composting expert Peter Critch, project manager at Subpod, excitedly shares the benefits of creating your own compost and how easy it is to try at home. His easy-to-follow tips will definitely have anyone, even beginners, just as excited to start giving back to nature by reusing our waste, rebuilding the soil, and growing our own food.
Discover how to live homegrown! See Peter Critch in action at our Composting Revolution workshop where he will demonstrate how to get started with easy and efficient composting at home.
Why is composting important?
Composting is the process of letting organic matter like food scraps decompose with the help of microbes to form compost. Compost is the soil-like end-product of composting that works as a natural fertiliser to grow healthier plants. Here are more points that make composting important:
- Composting is a great way to reduce waste, help the environment, get connected with nature, and grow food in the process.
- Composting helps the environment because it takes waste that would be sent to landfill, which emits methane gas into the atmosphere (22 times worse than carbon dioxide), and instead turns it into food for the soil and food for your plants.
- Composting 15kg a week for a year is the equivalent of taking a car off the road for 6 months.
- Composting builds soil which is rich in nutrients and microbes. This helps in growing vigorous, healthy plants that are less reliant on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
What do I need to start composting?
Composting is kind of like baking a cake. Ingredients, air, and moisture can have a significant effect on how your cake turns out!
The two main categories are browns (dry paper, leaves, and cardboard) and greens (kitchen waste and fresh grass clippings). Shoot for a 50:50 ratio with equal parts of green to brown.
Bringing air into your compost favours microbes that produce sweet-smelling smells instead of a rotting odour.
Your compost should be moist and not too wet as it will prevent air from coming in! To test your compost pile for moisture, take some of it into your hand and squeeze. If it drips, your pile is too wet. Add some brown matter. If it feels as dry as dust, add water and stir.
Aside from these basic components, you may need other tools depending on your preferred composting style. Here are three main methods:
|Hot Composting||Compost pile heats up due to microbial process. Regular turning of the pile heightens the microbial activity and promote decomposition.||Correct ratio of green and brown ingredients, a contained area, pitchfork for turning the pile, and diligence for managing the pile to avoid pests|
|Cold Composting||Slower, less work method where layers of organic matter are added to the compost pile without turning it.||Correct ratio of green and brown ingredients, a contained area, diligence for managing the pile to avoid pests, and patience|
|Vermicomposting||Easiest method for urban composting or composting in smaller areas. It uses worms to eat organic wastes, have them broken down in their digestive tract, then excreted as nutrient-rich compost.||Choose a worm farm that is moist, cool, and dark; keep worms happy by feeding them your kitchen scraps, paper, garden clippings, etc.|
One great tool for composting is the cleverly designed Subpod that uses both microbes and worms so you can make compost out of different food wastes, including meat, citrus, and dairy. The microbes and worms can freely move in and out through the Subpod’s built-in holes, aerating the soil and distributing the nutrients in the process. It even doubles as a comfy chair for you to sit on while admiring your garden.
Are there tips for successful composting?
Certain factors can affect your compost if not managed properly. Here’s how you can avoid some of the common problems that may arise.
My compost stinks.
Generally, your compost stinks because too much food waste is put in—it’s too wet or there isn’t enough air. Try adding dry brown material (e.g., newspaper, sawdust, leaves) to balance out the ratios. Compost can also stink because it does not get much air. Turn your compost regularly to get oxygen in there, or use an aerator which is an easy way to turn the scraps into the compost while aerating it at the same time.
Worms are dying.
Don’t overfeed your worms. Start feeding your worms gradually in small amounts. In time, the worms will build up their numbers and be able to eat more. Add “brown stuff” organic matter containing carbon with every feeding (e.g., newspaper, sawdust, leaves, cardboard). Also, make sure your worms have access to air.
What are the uses of compost?
- Finished compost is black gold! High-quality compost retains moisture and contains a diversity of microbes and essential nutrients. This helps plants to grow and also prevents the plants from getting diseases and pests.
- Plants need 17 nutrients in order to grow. Compost delivers these nutrients biologically, which makes a world of difference when compared with synthetic ones.
- Today, soils are depleted of microorganisms. Compost helps rebuild our soil so we don’t have to rely too much on synthetic chemicals (pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, and herbicides) to feed our plants.
- When we feed our soil with compost, we increase the soil biology to growing healthy plants. Healthy soils and plants grow healthy people.
Even if you don’t have a garden at home, someone else will be more than happy to take the compost you’ve made off your hands. You will always have a use for your compost, from potting new veggies to repotting your indoor plants to fertilising a plant you will give to your mum for Christmas. You can’t go wrong with compost! Here are a few more ideas:
- Grow your own microgreens.
- Throw some in your pot plants.
- Donate your compost to a community garden.
- Feed compost to a random plant or tree. Compost helps in building soil health and drawing carbon out of the atmosphere to prevent global warming. How cool is that?
Join the composting revolution and make it a habit. It can be challenging at first, but remember not to give up. Experiment, learn, and succeed!
To learn more about Subpod, click on subpod.com.