There’s the common belief that compost is just as gross and smelly as it sounds, which keeps many of us from composting at home, or at all. However, this is a myth that we need to stop believing since compost doesn’t really smell bad when it is properly done. Besides, adding compost to our garden can keep it healthy and fruitful, adding several nutrients and minerals that can keep our garden healthy and fertile. If you have thought about making your own compost but don’t know how to, this short guide will definitely help you get started right away.
Before we start making compost at home, there is an important decision that we need to make. Deciding whether we will use a bin to collect our compost or make a compost pile out in our garden is the first step to take. If we opt for a bin, it might be faster for us to collect and maintain our pile in just one place, while making it easier and faster to gather our kitchen waste. On the other hand, if we choose an outdoor pile, monitoring the progress of our compost pile would definitely be easier. Just remember that it will not be as appealing to the eye, and some neighbors might have a problem with that.
Once you decided on one of the two options above, it is important to become aware of the kind of materials we can use for our compost pile. There are four elements that will be the sources of our compost pile. We can divide them into two different categories, which are brown and green materials. Brown materials are sources of carbon and include waste like paper towels, toilet paper rolls, straws, cardboard egg cartons, newspapers, chipped wood, dried grass, etcetera. Green materials provide nitrogen and include waste such as tea bags and coffee grounds, vegetable trimmings, seaweed, human or animal hair, herbivore manure, etcetera. Besides these materials, you also need to add water and oxygen to the mix.
We´d love to say that making your own compost at home is as easy as pie, but we might run into some quite common problems, unfortunately. One of the most common problems is finding that our compost pile is too soggy or too wet, whether it is because of too much water or too much nitrogen. The best way to fix this issue is by adding some brown material in order to make it dry again. Having too much nitrogen clumped all together in our pile is another common problem that results in our pile becoming smelly, but this too can be fixed by adding brown material like shredded newspaper and breaking up the clumps. Lastly, we might find ourselves throwing undesirable items to the pile, like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy. If we can’t easily remove those items, covering them up with brown material until they break down is the best way to go.
Learning how to identify when your compost is ready to be used as garden fertilizer might be a bit tricky and time-consuming. The key is looking for a dark and crumbly pile of compost that gives an earthy smell. For some composters, these results might be achieved in somewhere near four weeks. However, for those who have the time and patience to wait for nature to take its course, the whole process might take up to six months. Even when it sounds like quite a long period for collecting and composting waste, the results will be worth the time, as you will end up with garden gold.