Turning Trash into Treasure with Organic Composting
One of the most key ingredients for a beautiful and healthy garden is good soil. And you can’t get good soil without great compost! This is why every gardener should know how to keep their soil healthy by creating top-notch organic compost. But there are other benefits to organic composting – for example, it is a great way to reduce landfill while restoring precious nutrients to the earth. Read on to find out how you can make great organic compost for your garden.
A Humus How-To
Just as hummus is good for your health, humus is great for your garden! Humus is rich, organic matter that has decomposed over a long period of time, and it’s why your garden beds will thrive with rich, organic compost. Conventional farming methods use fertilizers to keep the soil healthy so that it produces the best crops, but you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to create nutrient-dense soil. Instead, savvy gardeners create compost by returning organic matter to the earth, reducing their waste and increasing the health of their gardens.
A Brief History of Compost
Modern composting stretches back as far as 23 AD in Rome, where people would put all of their organic waste in a big pile at the end of the harvest season. Eventually, of course, the waste would rot down into an extremely rich source of nutrients for a new growing season. As you can see, people have been composting for centuries! Like fermenting, composting isn’t generally a process that can be sped up easily, so for the most part, traditional methods have prevailed over time. This means that it’s easy to compost in your own backyard with little effort.
What is Compost Used For?
Just as composting methods haven’t changed much over time, the uses for compost haven’t strayed much from Roman times. Organic compost is generally used in a similar way to generic fertilizers, and is mixed into garden beds to ensure that the soil is as healthy as possible. It can help prevent the growth of weeds by blocking sunlight from underneath the topsoil, and also aids in keeping soil moist and filled with nutrients so that your plants can grow as well as possible. These nutrients are filtered deeper into the earth with the rain, ensuring that the garden is healthy from top to bottom.
Making high-quality compost is kind of like making a cake – you need a certain ratio of ingredients to be sure that it turns out right! Compost needs air, water, and organic matter, but be sure to include both dead plant matter like fallen leaves, and living organic waste like grass clippings. Nonetheless, it is important to avoid putting any diseased plants into your compost pile, because the bacteria can creep its way back into your soil, making your healthy plants sick. You need both living and dead organic waste because one provides nitrogen, and the other provides carbon, and each layer should be watered to activate the compost process.
What About Worms?
You may have heard of using tiger worms, red worms, or similar critters to help break down the organic matter in your compost pile. This method is called ‘vermicomposting,’ and is preferable because it quickly increases the carbon ratio of your compost, making it decompose much more quickly than it would without worms. If you want to try vermicomposting, it’s best to use a worm bin, which you can pick up from your local garden supply store.
But What About Bokashi?
The Bokashi method relies on a special sawdust-like mix rich in microorganisms, which is then used to cover food waste. In its first stages, the waste begins to ferment rather than rotting. It is eventually buried under a layer of soil to ensure that it turns into beautiful, rich compost.
Bokashi may be a new method for Western gardeners, but it is a well-established way to compost in Japan, where it has been developing for centuries. If you’re sensitive to smells, or if you just hate how stinky your compost pile gets, this may be a better way to create compost in your home garden.
These are just a few of the many methods you can employ to generate compost more quickly on your organic farm or in your home garden. The beauty of making your own organic compost, of course, is that you don’t need special equipment, worms, or Bokashi mix. At its most basic level, you can simply bury food waste like coffee grounds and eggshells in the ground, and wait for Mother Earth to work her magic. Isn’t that wonderful?