Composting is a time-tested and innovative method of organic waste disposal. Learn about compost, including what it is, how it’s made, and how it’s utilized.
Composting is an age-old method of waste disposal that has been around for a very long time. It was one of the first methods of keeping cultivated land fruitful that was discovered millennia after the emergence of sedentary civilization.
Compost has thus played a significant role in the advancement of human civilization as part of the history of fertilization. We’ve compiled all the pertinent information on what is compost in this article, and we’ve also provided links to more in-depth special reports.
In this post you can learn about
- 1 What is Composting
- 2 Compost Pile or Heap
- 3 Build your Own Compost
- 4 Using Compost Bins
- 5 Proper and Effective Composting
- 6 Composting Worms
- 7 Compost Soils – Fertilizing Garden with Compost
- 8 Composting Toilet
- 9 Mixing Compost Yourself
- 10 Buying Compost
What is Composting
Compost is decomposed organic matter that has been man-made and allowed to decompose naturally. Compost is a type of humus, yet humus cannot be called compost because it forms spontaneously over time without human assistance. In the process of composting, creatures such as worms, insects, and bacteria first break down the original material’s ancient structural components.
New compounds known as humic acids are formed by combining molecular and atomic building components throughout time. Humus flakes become apparent when coupled with clay particles. Even though compost varies widely, it’s often brown to black in color, has a woodsy odor, and weighs more than twice as much as peat.
Composted material’s appearance and properties vary with the types of raw materials, decaying time, and environmental conditions. As we’ll show you below, the designations are always accompanied with useful details regarding the assets in question.
As you can see, the decaying time and the initial components have an impact on the compost’s qualities. A compost’s stability tells us how readily microorganisms may break it down again once it’s been put in the soil. Its high stability makes compost an excellent soil fertilizer, as it improves soil qualities while providing almost little nutrients to plants.
Because of its low stability, compost that can be used as a plant fertilizer dissolves quickly, releasing nutrients and making them available to plants. As a result, it doesn’t increase the soil’s qualities because it’s only there for a short time. Both names should always be taken into account. Although fresh green compost has more nutrients than finished green compost, it will always be poorer in nutrients than organic compost that has just been turned out of the soil.
Compost has numerous applications. Compost tea can be used to inoculate soil or composts with helpful microorganisms as a liquid soil conditioner. Compost as soil or plant fertilizer has long been used in agriculture and gardening for its many advantages.
Compost piles serve several purposes, some of which are summarised below – for additional information, see this in-depth article.
Benefits of a Compost Pile
Making your own compost has numerous advantages: Smaller organic waste bins, easy garden waste disposal and high-quality soil and plant fertilizer are three of the most critical considerations. A concern for the environment could also be a factor: Recycling and composting your own garbage is the most environmentally friendly option. Unfortunately, you can’t just transform your compost into cash by selling it; instead, you have to choose between giving it away or throwing it away.
Functions of a Compost Heap
The composting process happens quietly and very slowly. The process itself, on the other hand, takes place. Because of the organisms’ activity, temperatures have been known to rise to over 60 °C. It’s all part of the carbon cycle: microbes take carbon-containing chemicals, utilize them to make energy, and exhale carbon dioxide as a result of dissolving old organic waste structures (CO2).
Decomposition is accelerated by high quantities of nutrients, notably nitrogen, which makes it simpler for microorganisms to conduct their job. New molecules, such as the humic acids previously stated, are produced in chemical and biological processes following the disintegration of the structures.
Since microorganisms do practically all the work in composting, their living conditions have a significant impact on how quickly and hotly the waste decomposes. Oxygen and water availability, temperature, pH, and nutritional content are all important considerations.
The individual doing the composting can also have an impact on these factors. Before compost removal can begin, it is necessary to sift properly, stratify, and possibly churn the compost. It is also necessary to lime the compost and add nutrients.
Whatever composter is used, the amount of work varies depending on the type: rental, rotting box, quick or thermal composter. Everything, however, centers around improving the living conditions of the composting organisms, which are the actual workers throughout this process.
Here’s a quick rundown of the steps involved in making compost; the full guide can be found in the dedicated article.
To save money, you can build your own composter, and you can customize it to meet your own needs and preferences. Most of the time, creating your own isn’t difficult and doesn’t necessitate extremely skilled craftsmanship or unusual tools.
A rotting box can be quickly and cheaply constructed with scrap wood, nails, plastic sheeting, and boards. A perforated metal or plastic barrel works well as a fast composter, and with a little insulation, it can double as a thermal composter. Creating a worm bin is as simple as stacking a few plastic boxes on top of each other, adding a drainage faucet, and putting the whole thing in two flower pots.
The Bokashi bucket, on the other hand, takes even less time to finish (because fermentation is taking place, not composting): In order to make this one work, two buckets are fitted into one another, sealed, and then a tap is added. The bokashi bucket is likewise ready for use once the lid is on. Of course, you have the option of using different materials altogether.
The needs of the composting microorganisms should be taken into consideration while building a composter from other materials such as paving or wall stones, metal fencing or expanded metal, or even pallets.
On the other hand, purchasing a composter can be both inexpensive and expensive. Composter quality and price aren’t always inversely proportional. The pricing is frequently determined by the product’s look and long-term usability.
Composters generally range in price from $50 to $500. The cheapest versions are generally lacking in either functionality or long-term durability, whereas the most costly models frequently excel in one or both of these areas.
As a result, one of the most commonly asked questions in relation to garden compost bins is whether or not running your compost directly close to the boundary fence is illegal. The answer to your question is perhaps.
While compost isn’t regarded as a structural facility, your neighbor may be able to take legal action against it if it emits offensive odors, attracts pests, or causes any other major discomfort to him due to its location right on the border.
You may read more about compost bins in our complete special article, which is available here if you’re interested.
Aeration systems and odor filters are optional on a variety of compost bins, which range in size, shape, and material. Consider the following factors before making a purchase of a bucket for your organic waste.
Emptying is made more difficult by the adhesion of foul-smelling, damp, and muddy waste. This also makes cleaning more difficult. Having a smooth and circular interior is the best way to avoid this, as are putting compost bags or paper on the bottom of the bucket, having excellent ventilation, and selecting a small bucket.
When it comes to organic waste, many people are unsure of exactly what can and cannot be disposed of. Whether you want to put your organic waste in the regular garbage or on your own compost heap will be determined by your preferences. The contents of organic waste garbage generally include,
- Vegetable and fruit residues (also from citrus fruits)
- All dairy products – in small quantities (except milk)
- Coffee and tea leftovers, with bags (if without metal)
- Bones (in household quantities)
- Withered flower bouquets and potted plants including soil (without binding tape or metal)
- Salad residues (also with dressing)
- Egg shells
- Lawn clippings
- Nut shells
- Wild herbs
- Shrub and tree cuttings, bark, and twigs
- Perennials (plastic binding tapes must be removed)
Glass and plastic bottles should never be thrown in with organic waste because they can’t be recycled. It’s up to the district or local trash disposal office to decide if little animal litter, salted foods, meat scraps, cooked food or substantial quantities of dairy products are acceptable. This link will take you to a helpful website that will help you dispose of your waste properly.
The following also applies if you want to make your own compost and dispose of your garbage that way: no animal products, cooked or salted food. Your compost’s microorganisms are “raw food vegans,” as the saying goes. Additionally, avoid adding too many sick or seed-bearing plants to your compost.
However, if your compost reaches temperatures greater than 60 °C, this rule does not apply. Private composting, on the other hand, nearly never has this problem.
Flies in and around the compost bin may be a real pain, especially in the summer and in rural regions. They are not only a nuisance, but they can also be hygienic pests in some circumstances. To prevent fruit flies, follow the instructions in this article. You’ll also find helpful hints in the preceding article on compost buckets.
In place of using a bucket, you can compost your organic waste at home: Unobtrusive worm bins are now available, which can double as lounge furniture as well. This saves you from having to make a special trip to the garbage can to dispose of organic waste.
Worm compost and “worm tea” can be made in your own kitchen instead. As an added bonus, the Bokashi bucket creates “Bokashi tea,” which is a liquid fertilizer made from your organic waste and may be used on your plants. This article goes into greater information about how to use the Bokashi bucket.
Proper and Effective Composting
Here are a few last thoughts, and if you’d like to learn more about composting, check out the complete article here.
Effective preparation of compost necessitates knowledge of the composting process. It’s common knowledge that composting transforms organic waste into humus. It’s a two-step process: After the primary rotting phase, fresh compost is formed, which then through a post-decomposition process to become finished compost, and finally mature compost.
The compost gets more stable and deficient in nutrients as the rotting process progresses. A cold rotting technique is commonly used in home composting. There is no way to kill viruses and weed seeds with this method because it does not reach temperatures above 60 °C. Recycling yards and commercial composting plants operate under distinct rules.
Because of the tumultuous nature of laying the piles all at once, the decaying process is accelerated, and the temperature can reach to up to 80°C with proper insulation, resulting in sterile compost.
After deciding on a composter, the next step is to put it in a convenient area. Semi-shaded, sheltered, and large enough to handle the work at hand are all desirable characteristics for this location. To make matters even better, the composter’s foundation needs to be sound and loose. If at all possible, avoid placing it next to a neighbor’s property line or too far from where compost waste is generated.
Composting progress depends on the health and productivity of the microorganisms that make up the compost. The following table outlines the main determining elements, as well as various countermeasures.
Composting is also aided by fungi. However, low-quality compost that is lighter and more acidic is created under their influence. It’s great for marshy bog plants like rhododendrons (Rhododendron), mock berries (Gaultheria procumbens), blueberries (Vaccinium species), and lavender heather (Pieris japonica).
Compost worms are discussed briefly below – click here for the full special article with further references.
In order to expedite composting or affect it, compost worms are those that are specifically utilised in windrow composting systems, composting facilities, composting systems, or worm bin composting systems. Unless you have a zoologically educated eye, these worms seem nothing like the common earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris). In fact, they are from different genera.
Compost worms such as Eisenia fetida, Eisenia andrei, and Eisenia hortensis are available in considerable quantities, too. They have evolved to live in shallow, nutrient-rich environments and are at ease even in confined worm bins of a limited size.
They also have a particularly strong appetite as well as complimentary food preferences, which is why offering and purchasing them together is so common. Worms found in the “wild” tend to be more specialized and have a narrower range of feeding choices, making them unsuitable for composting.
Using their muscles, compost worms consume by squeezing their mouths against the substrate (their food and environment). Their diet includes everything from clay particles to sand grains. They eat both organic and inorganic substances.
After digestion, worm feces are expelled along with calcium and a thin layer of mucus, resulting in “aggregates,” or crumbs, that are already stable before they are eaten. Following colonization by bacteria and fungi, worm excrement becomes elastic, absorbent, and more robust humus flake material.
Professional composting companies have long been “on to the worm” due to worm digestion speeding up the composting process. Compost worms can be found in backyard compost piles and worm bins, where they are used much more actively.
Compost material and worms are placed in these simple or split bins. It’s possible to buy or make models for indoor and outdoor use with a reasonable amount of work. The worms’ homes have even become socially acceptable due to their subtle appearance and added usage as seating furniture. Composting your organic waste in a city flat is an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to throwing it in the rubbish can.
In addition to the work and knowledge that comes with managing hundreds to thousands of worms, The worms’ basic needs must be addressed in order for them to survive, digest a lot, and reproduce. This includes, for example, the requirement that it be dark and not overly humid, as well as the requirement that adequate amounts of the main and trace nutrients be available.
They could die if the compost is compacted to the point that they are unable to breathe. And even while they can make incredible use of garbage, consuming an excessive quantity or food that is incompatible with the environment might be harmful.
Compost Soils – Fertilizing Garden with Compost
We’ve compiled some information on compost soil for your convenience. The specific articles on compost soil and compost fertilization go into greater detail.
In order to prevent any confusion here are a few differences between compost and compost soil:
Compost is the end product of a process known as controlled composting, which is sometimes referred to as rotting. Depending on the source material, aging period, and aging conditions, it can have vastly different qualities over the course of a single batch.
As a result, compost can be used in a variety of ways, from fertilizing the soil to feeding plants. Between the two extremes, there are countless gradations that can be made. Low in nutrients, highly stable, and improving a wide range of soil properties over the long term are all characteristics of a soil-fertilizing compost. As a result, it has the ability to make soil fertile for an extended period of time while providing very little plant nutrients.
This is not the case with plant-fertilizing compost because it contains many nutrients and is extremely unstable when exposed to microbial breakdown. In the end, fertility is not boosted because it doesn’t stay in the soil or only in small amounts.
Compost soils are a type of hybrid soil that includes compost as one of the ingredients. Many plants require additions because pure compost is not an ideal food source. These additives alter the mixture’s qualities to better suit the needs of the particular plant crop. Compost soils with various compositions are therefore available for summer flowers and potted plants, vegetables, shrubs, or herbs.
When converting from peat-based to peat-free soils, various tiny things may alter in the application of compost soils. Compost soils, on the other hand, may require less fertilizer. When using a mix that doesn’t contain peat, it’s possible that it will slump or require more frequent watering.
Compost soil can, of course, be made at home. Some nurseries continue to use this method, and the ratios used are tightly guarded. A few ideas for your own concoctions are provided in the feature article, along with full information on suitable ingredients. Other options for soils, such as peat-free ones found at hardware stores or garden centers, will also be available to you.
The use of compost will be determined by your goals for the application. Use nutrient-rich organic/compost or organic/fresh compost for pure bed, lawn, or forest fertilizer. It’s best to apply the sealant in shallow strokes, so only a thin layer is needed. If your goal is to improve a barren stretch of soil, we suggest using green organic waste or mature compost as well as reading this particular article on humus management.
Here we present some summary remarks on the composting toilet – for more details, see the full special article here.
Many people connect using a composting toilet, also known as a dry toilet (TC), with wearing jute clothing and being part of the environmental movement. Few people are aware that the composting toilet is not a new evolution of the outhouse, but its use predates the WC.
For all we know, this narrative could have ended quite differently, and the WC would have been lost to history forever. This could have been preferable, at the very least from an ecological standpoint: After all, the convenience of a rapid water flush adds so much extra effort and pollution to our water cycle that it’s nearly hard to clean it all up again afterward.
Using a composting toilet, on the other hand, keeps the nutrient and water cycles separate, allowing you to save both. We can create sanitary compost from our leftovers by composting them for an extended period of time or by pasteurizing – that is, heating them. This compost can then be employed in food production.
Composting toilets come in a wide range of styles and configurations. Each uses structural material, which binds liquids and aids in composting thereafter. It also effectively eliminates unpleasant odors. Bark mulch, wood chips, and wood ash are all good structural elements. The feces is first collected, then composted, which is the general procedure. As a result, the waste container will need to be emptied at some point. This could have previously been composted or not, according to the system.
- Solids and liquids are collected in one basic toilet. It needs to be emptied on a regular basis or the user will have to deal with offensive odors. By separating the liquid in the community toilet, smells can be considerably decreased. The volume is also drastically lowered in this manner, resulting in a large extension of the period for emptying.
- The so-called dry separation toilet is a distinct variant (TTC). With this design, liquid and solid never mix together in a container because of the toilet seat’s unique shape.
- Although modern composting toilets sometimes appear like something out of another planet’s throne room, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can build your own custom-fit composting toilet from kits, and there are even firms that specialize in this area.
Using a composting toilet not only helps the environment but also saves money. In addition, the installation can be done even if the area is not connected to the sewerage system. If you’re in a remote area, near water, or on a very stony terrain, this may be the case. It’s not feasible to install sewage pipes in this location. Composting toilets are therefore not surprising in some parts of Sweden and some other Nordic countries.
It’s worth noting that the composting toilet is also available to rent because it is as portable as a toilet can get. If you’re planning a huge or small event, you have the option of using the ecologically friendly porta toilet instead. For example, some of these rental toilets exceed all environmental regulations while still being incredibly cost-effective, making it difficult for the average person to tell the difference between them and traditional public restrooms.
Mixing Compost Yourself
Compost potting soil is available for purchase or can be made at home. Make your own potting soil if you can. This is especially true if you have access to compost. These can be altered to match the requirements of various plants. In addition to saving money and helping the environment, making your own compost soil has a number of other advantages.
Nevertheless, building your own compost will require a significant investment of time and work on your part, and you will be responsible for acquiring the additional chemicals required for its successful use. Fresh compost, finished compost, and mature compost are all created sequentially during the composting process.
Some compost types are more suited for certain purposes, while others are better suited for mixing with other compost types. To prevent the spread of diseases and weed seeds in indoor flower pots, sterilize the compost with high heat before combining.
his article on “Mixing compost soil yourself” shows you how to do it and which mixtures are best for summer flowers, herbs, and woody plants in beds or tubs, for cuttings, or for sowing.
The following is a synopsis of the complete article on the topic of purchasing compost, as well as a link to it.
Compost is a type of man-produced humus that can be made on-site or purchased. For planting, soil improvement or fertilizing, this is especially helpful if you need compost quickly and don’t want to wait a year for your own. Hardware stores and garden centers sell compost soils like the ones listed above.
However, if you need a little more compost, this alternative is out of reach due to the small volumes and high cost. Thus, going to a local recycling center is the most cost-effective alternative because compost is always being generated from organic garbage can contents and lawn care green waste.
It’s common to find nutrient-rich bio-compost alongside less nutrient-dense green waste compost, but you can also find both. The private route is another option. Perhaps a gardener you know has more compost than he needs and will share some of it with you?
Peat, to a certain extent, is humus. Even though it contains vast volumes of “marsh humus,” peat also contains significant amounts of organic material that has not decomposed. Peat is a low-cost soil improver that can be employed by adjusting the pH using lime. Over time, the undigested material decomposes and turns into humus. However, due to the fact that peat use contributes to numerous environmental issues, including the threat of climate change, it should be avoided or severely limited whenever possible.