Making compost from organic waste will not only reduce the amount of waste you divert from the garbage can but produce a quality humus for your garden or indoor plants.
What is composting?
Composting is the natural aerobic decomposition of organic biodegradable matter performed mainly by micro-organisms and larger organisms (earthworms, insects, etc.). The result is a product that, in the soil, becomes humus. One ton of green waste produces about 500 kg of compost.
How to start your own compost?
You can compost even if you don’t have a garden or yard. You can even start a compost on your balcony. You can usually find small-scale outdoor composters at garden centres.
During the composting process, micro-organisms require oxygen. It is therefore important to regularly turn your compost, every 1 or 2 months on average, to ensure the constant breakdown of waste. A good compost must be moist, without overwatering, and not smell bad.
All organic waste can be added to the composter. Grass clippings, fruit and vegetable peelings, paper tissues, spent coffee, teabags, egg shells, withered flowers, wood ash, sawdust and wood shavings, etc.
Be careful, keep meat, fish scraps, dairy waste, animal manure, and sick plants out of the composter.
Recognising a good compost
The process can take anywhere from 2 months to 2 years depending on the kind of waste used. A mature compost is homogonous in appearance, dark coloured, and smells pleasantly earthy. You shouldn’t be able to recognise bits of what you originally put in.
Using your compost
The compost can be used:
- Unfinished, as mulch, on the surface directly at the foot of trees or on mature crops (too young, it must not be mixed in the soil where it could harm young shoots). Mulching reduces watering while adding nutrients to the soil.
- Finished :
- Either as an organic soil amendment: it improves the water-holding capacity of the soil as well as its porosity. By spreading it in thin layers then incorporating it the soil superficially by hoeing.
- Or as a growing medium by mixing the compost with humus. Be careful, except for tomatoes and squash; never directly sow in the compost.
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