Introduction on how to make compost at home
What is compost?
Compost is the decayed organic matter which can be added to the soil for the healthy growth of plants. The yard waste, fallen leaves, fruit waste, vegetable waste can be composted and made into a useful material for the plants. Compost helps to retain soil moisture and suppresses plant diseases and pests. It also enriches the soil by helping the beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus. Humus is a rich nutrient-filled material that helps to promote the healthy growth of the plant.
A step by step guide to make a compost at home
What can be composted?
Anything organic can be composted. The leftover vegetables, food, coffee grounds, bread, pasta, etc. can be composted and turned into a useful product. Below is the list of materials that can be composted
- Fruits and vegetables
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Shredded newspaper
- Yard trimmings
- Grass clippings
- Hay and straw
- Wood chips
- Cotton and Wool Rags
- Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
What not to compost?
Few materials even though organic cannot be composed because of specific reasons like attracting unwanted pests, bad smell, the release of poisonous or toxic gasses, and other harmful effects. These include-
- Meat and milk products
- Baked goods
- Treated sawdust
- Highly acidic foods
- High salted foods
- Oil and greasy foods or materials
- Pet or human waste
- Animal waste
How to make a compost at home?
The composting process can be made in different ways. First, you need to make a compost pile in the area available. The tools required to prepare the compost pile are pitchforks, shovels, water hoses with a spray head, and other tools. By regular mixing of the compost, the water content will be maintained equilibrium of the compost.
Composting can be done at home in two ways: Backyard composting and indoor composting.
How to make Backyard compost at home
- To construct compost pile select a shady, dry area in your backyard which should be nearby the water source.
- Add a layer of green and brown organic materials collected and before adding make sure they are chopped into smaller pieces.
- Moisten the dry materials by adding some water.
- After the compost pile is established add a layer of mixed-grass clippings and green waste.
- Now cover the waste layer with mud and then add fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches if compost material.
- Again add a layer of mud so that it covers the waste material.
- Cover the compost pile with a trap to maintain moisture.
- Once in ten days mix the compost upside down so that the material decomposes thoroughly.
- After 45-50 days, based on the amount of waste added the compost will be ready.
- If you find a dark fine, soft and granular texture then your compost is ready to use.
How to make Indoor compost at home
- If you do not have a space to construct the compost pile you can also get the compost by decaying the organic waste produced in a special type of bin called compost bin or home composter or compost machine.
- The process is the same but you need to manage it well, as it will attract few pests and rodents because of the bad smell.
- In indoor composting, the compost will be ready within 15-20 days.
- This composter will have a rotator that is inbuilt that helps to mix the waste thoroughly.
- Check the moisture content once in two days.
Is organic compost a fertilizer?
Organic fertilizers are formed from organic matter like vegetable waste, crop residues, human excreta, animal excreta, and animal matter. Before going into the detail first we need to understand the term fertilizer. Fertilizer is a substance that increases the fertility of the soil. These substances can be organic or inorganic. Hence the organic compost fits into the category of fertilizer as it fertilizes the soil.
What is Aerobic composting?
Composting can be done either through aerobic bacteria or anaerobic bacteria which are responsible for the decomposition of organic matter. Aerobic composting is the process of decomposing organic wastes or matter by using microorganisms that requires oxygen. This can be done in the natural space where the microbes live in the moisture surrounding organic matter.
In this process, oxygen from the air gets diffused into the moisture which is taken up by the microbes for the decomposing process. The heat produced during this process is well enough to kill the harmful bacteria and other pathogens as these are not adapted to the high temperatures. It also supports the growth of beneficial bacteria such as psychrophilic, mesophilic, and thermophilic bacteria which can live at higher temperatures.
What is Anaerobic composting?
In anaerobic composting decomposition is done by using microorganisms that do not require oxygen to survive. In this system, the chemical energy is released as methane gas. Hence, this process is characterized by the strong odors released from the compost. Only a little amount of heat is generated during the decomposition in anaerobic composting. It cannot kill the harmful microorganisms or the pathogens hence an external heat is added to overcome these limitations.
After the anaerobic digestion, the compost forms as a sludge which is difficult to breakdown. To convert this as a proper form it requires aerobic composting.
How to make compost from leaves at home
Leaf compost is defined as a mixture of leaves and grass clippings or food waste. While the other method of leaf mulch is just leaves and water. Hence, leaf compost can be done in two ways.
Composting dry leaves in a bin or pile
- Add the collected dry leaves to a compost bin or pile them up in a bag or to the corner of your yard.
- Top the leaves with nitrogen-rich grass clippings or food waste.
- Build the pile up to 3ft. tall with nitrogen-rich products in between.
- Make sure that you turn the compost once in a month.
- Check the moisture content and add water appropriately.
- If your compost is soggy or rotten then dry the content by adding materials like sawdust straw or even dry leaves.
- Continue turning and observe the moisture content until the compost is ready to use.
- The final product is dark in color, crumbly in texture, dry, and smells earthy.
- Of you continuously keep on turning the compost by checking the moisture content then you can easily find the final refined compost within two months. But in winter it may take up to one year.
Leaf mold in garbage bags
Leaf mold is different from leaf compost as it is used for controlling the pests and plant diseases. It is the best source for mulching and controlling weeds.
- Collect the shred leaves in a large garbage bag.
- Water the leaves with the required quantity of water until they are damp but not soaked.
- Later seal the bag tightly and cut few slits for airflow.
- Shake the bag every few weeks to turn the pile.
- Check the moisture content and water if necessary.
- The leaf mold is ready when the dry leaves become black or crumbly material.
- It usually takes 4-6 months to form leaf mold.
Different types of composting
There are different types of composting methods which includes –
In this composting method, small amounts of left out food or wasted food are composted on site. It also includes yard trimmings, animal products, food scraps, etc. It does not include large quantities of food scraps.
Vermicomposting is a method wherein earthworms digest the organic materials to a fine-textured product that is vital for successful growth and yield of different fields. This material is called vermicompost which includes plant growth hormones, nutrients, and thereby aids to improve soil structure by increasing the water-holding capacity of the soil. This process is popular as Bio-oxidation and stabilization of the organic content, in which the organic constituents pass through the earthworm digestive system and deliver the compost hence called vermicompost. Since the earthworms enrich the field by making the soil fertile through the release of nutrients and other useful materials, they are famously referred to as “Farmers Friends”. Vermicomposting is a money-making business because many of them in present times are shifting to organic fruits, vegetables, and other products as they are not grown by using harmful chemical materials i.e., organic fields where they employ only the naturally created composts and manures from the animal and plant wastes. This results in eco-friendly agriculture without troubling the natural process of the environment.
By using specific species of earthworms, vermicomposting can be performed in compost pits. This can be planned into a production unit as the vermicompost has an extraordinary need in the market for organic food products.
The process of vermicomposting
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This process begins with the gathering of crop residues, vegetable waste, agri-waste, few animal wastes, cow dung, and all the organic wastes. The pits are dug shallow to prevent heat built-up which is considered as harmful to earthworms. Earthworms speedily change the material in case the temperature is preserved around 30°C. To do all these steps, first, we must construct brick-lined beds having 0.9-1.5 m width and 0.25-0.3 m height and this must be constructed within a shed that is open from all the ways. For planning commercial units, the beds are formed with 15 m length, 1.5 m width and 0.6 m height. These dimensions cannot be altered as the rise in the width impacts the operation and the increase in height during conversion there will be a rise of temperature. Cow dung farm waste is placed in layers till a height of 0.6-0.9 m and the earthworms are loaded in between the layers at a rate of 350 worms per m3 of bed volume that weighs around 1 Kg. The beds are sustained at about 40-50% moisture content and a temperature of 20-30°C by sprinkling water over the beds from time to time.
In this composting method, large volumes of compost produced are collected and processed by forming rows of long piles called windrows. These windrows are aerated manually or mechanically by turning the piles once in a while. Each windrow height ranges from 4-8 ft. and the width 16-18 ft. In this type of composting method, large volumes of diverse waste produced such as animal by-products, yard trimmings, liquids, fish, and poultry waste can be composted.
In windrow composting, a large area of land is required where the pile should be covered or placed under a shutter to prevent the pile from evaporation. Windrow composting works better in cold climatic conditions. During the composting process, leachate liquid is produced which will contaminate the local groundwater and surface water supplies. Hence, these should be collected and treated for usage.
Windrow composting is a large scale process where odors will be released which should be controlled as the composting process will be held in large lands. The nearby public should be informed about this and they need to address any complaints about the bad or harmful odors. This type of compost is tested in the laboratory for bacterial and heavy metal content before it is used for plants.
How to make mushroom compost at home
Mushroom compost is a type of slow-release organic plant fertilizer that makes a great addition to the garden soil. It is made by using different organic materials such as corn cobs, hay, hulls, straw, poultry, and horse manure. Also, you can also add lime, soybean meal, gypsum, peat moss, and other organic materials to the compost. It is called mushroom compost because the mushroom spawn is mixed into the compost. In this method, the mushroom spawn is steam pasteurized to kill the weeds and other harmful agents.
Mushroom composting takes 3-5 weeks to process. During the process, a thorough check is required to maintain the temperatures.
Advantages and disadvantages of mushroom compost
The advantages of mushroom compost are far outweighed because of the high salt levels. It is suitable for garden soils as it enriches the soil with nutrients for the healthy growth of plants. It also increases the water-holding capacity of the soil. It should be thoroughly mixed with the garden soil to get better results. Hence it is called garden compost.
How to make compost tea at home
The liquid that forms during the composting is called leachate which contains microbes, critters, and other useful material. This is called compost tea which can be used for the garden for the healthy growth of the plants. This compost tea can be used for flowering plants, house plants, vegetables, and other crops to increasing the blooms, growth, and yields. This contains beneficial microorganisms that aerate the soil.
How to make compost from kitchen waste at home
This is an easy method to reduce kitchen waste and convert it into a useful product. Composting kitchen waste can be done by adopting home composting methods. You need to maintain the green waste and the brown waste separately in home composting bins. Green waste is called the kitchen waste and the brown waste is the dry grass, dry leaves sawdust, and shredded paper. The greens contribute to the nitrogen content whereas the browns contribute to the carbon content. The process of composting kitchen waste can be carried out in Kitchen Composter.
In kitchen waste compost, browns must be in a higher ratio compared to the greens then the C: N ratio will be balanced. Place your brown and green waste in a shallow bin and provide the necessary aeration, moisture content. During the composting process, high temperatures will be released. The temperature in your compost determines the aeration required.
Kitchen waste compost is prepared within 3-4 weeks as it contains only less quantity and decomposes faster compared to other composting methods. You need to take some precautions to control the odor and avoid the insects. You can also speed up the process by adding gur water, sour buttermilk, and even by sprinkling the sugar. Be cautious because sugar attracts ants. You can also drive away from the ants by sprinkling turmeric powder in your compost.
How to apply compost to the plants?
Adding compost to the plants provides nutrients and helps for healthy growth, improves soil texture, and water holding capacity. It also creates a healthy environment by attracting earthworms. You can add compost o the plant in several ways. This includes- Watering them with compost tea, amending soil with compost, digging compost holes, and using compost as a mulch around the plants. All these methods improve the soil nutrient content, thereby promotes the healthy growth of the plant.
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