Making Your Own Organic Compost: An Infographic Guide
You may be asking yourself, “why would you make your own compost when it would be so much easier to simply buy pre-made ones from the store?” One good reason for this is due to there being no guarantee that compost bought from shops are made of high-quality materials.
When you make your own organic compost, you at least have the benefit of knowing what was used. Compost is beneficial for plants like grass for a number of reasons. First, it can stabilize the physical structure of the soil, which means you are less likely to deal with problems such as soil erosion. Compost can also help with modifying the pH level of the soil. For example, if you live in a desert-like region where the soil tends to be alkaline in nature, compost can help in lowering the soil pH over the long-term.
To get you started, we created an infographic guide on the basics of making organic compost. A lot of gardeners don’t do this because they think the process is complicated. In reality, making compost is actually pretty simple, especially if you use one of the low-maintenance methods shown in the infographic below.
Composting – Main Components
These four components play an essential part in the composting process. Organic matter is the material that is broken down by the microorganisms to turn into compost. Gardeners have to be aware that there has to be a proper balance between green (carbon) and brown (nitrogen) materials. This balance is often referred to as the Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio. Gardeners should look to maintain a C:N ratio of around 30:1.
The ideal moisture level should be around 50-60%. If the compost pile becomes too dry then the composting process won’t work. Microorganisms need water to function. If the moisture content is too high then that could prevent air (oxygen) from circulating within the compost pile, which would then lead to anaerobic conditions.
Bacteria or microorganisms are the last piece of the puzzle. Once the optimal conditions are supplied, the bacteria will break down the materials in the compost pile. Some gardeners like to use worms and other insects speed up the process. This technique is called Vermicomposting.
The items highlighted above are some of the most common materials in compost piles. The type of material you use will affect a number of factors. One factor is the time it takes to create the compost. For example, fruit peels are going to rot and decompose faster than things like eggshells. In the end, what is most important is to mix a good variety of objects.
The process of composting can be sped up by taking certain steps. For example, shredding things like leaves, newspapers, and fruit peels will help make the process faster because the surface area that the microorganisms have to work on increases. Gardeners who use eggshells often take the extra step of baking them in the oven before they are thrown into the compost pile. This helps reduce the risks of Salmonella, and also makes it easier to crush the eggshells into tiny pieces. Doing composting in a controlled environment, like a greenhouse, may also help.
Composting Materials to Avoid
There are arguments online that discuss the for and against of using dairy products and meat in compost piles. In reality, both products can be used in compost piles. However, we generally recommend that you avoid using them if you are a first-timer. One big reason for this has to do with attracting rodents. The foul smell from decomposed meat and dairy products could attract unwanted pests (bed bugs), such as cockroaches, fruit flies, and rats.
You should avoid using anything that contains chemical, such as color-dyed paper and treated wood. Cooking oil and fat should also be avoided because they disrupt the moisture balance in the compost pile.
The secret to successful composting is to select a method that suits your needs and the surrounding environment. Are you looking to generate enough compost for a huge garden? Or are you looking to produce a small amount for a mini grow tent? The choice of composting method will be influenced by the size of your yard and the amount of compost you would like to produce. For example, worm bins and enclosed compost bins would be best-suited for gardeners working with a limited amount of space. Bins generally do not require a lot of space and they also keep the surrounding area more neat and tidy.
Before you take the leap, it is important to understand the local regulations for home composting. You can get this information from the Environmental Protection Agency if you live in the states. Some neighborhoods may also have their own regulations in place to ensure the odor of the compost does not become a problem to others. Learn what these rules are then start to make a difference to the environment by creating your first pile of organic compost.
Published on November 30, 2016 by Sam Choan.