Composting acts as a key element in gardening and a small step towards closing food loop. It is an easy and inexpensive way to recycle kitchen waste and crop waste, by this the amount of trash can be reduced and also very satisfying to make own home fertilizer to plants. It’s the simple way to add nutrient rich humus to garden that fuels the plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil. It’s also free and good for environment.
All organic matter eventually decomposes but the composting process fastens the decomposition by providing a healthy environment to microbes. The final product will be HUMUS OR COMPOST looks like fertile soil and provides the vital nutrients helps in plant growth.
Compost is the final product obtained during composting process comprised of decomposed organic materials.
Why waste used to make compost
It can be better explained as best out of waste .since the kitchen waste consists biodegradable materials like vegetable, fruit peels, waste food and also garden waste. This considered as a solid waste. Here composting acts as a sustainable way to manage solid waste and also reduces the quantity of waste to be transported and disposed thus decreases the negative effects on environment .
IMPORTANCE OF COMPOSTING
- Compost increases the soil structure which contributes to good aeration and moisture retention
- Compost can be used as mulch materials helps to prevent some plant diseases like damping off of seedlings
- Help to improve the soil quality acts as a soil conditioner.
- Reduces the methane emissions from landfills (reduces global warming)
- Encourages the microbial activity in soil.
- Neutralizes the activity of toxic metals present in the soil.
- There are many methods of composting in a large scale, but a simple and easy way to supply for garden will be kitchen composting/home composting
HOME COMPOSTING it is the process where composting done in a small scale in buckets or in the backyard by using kitchen waste and garden waste. For healthy compost we have to add the waste materials that are rich in carbon and nitrogen content
NITROGEN RICH SOURCE / GREEN WASTE
- Vegetable and fruit peels
- Egg shells
- Coffee grounds, tea bags
- Grass, lawn or garden weeds
- Flower cuttings
CARBON RICH SOURCE / BROWN WASTE
- Fallen leaves
- Wood chips, wood ash
- Straw or hay
- Shredded paper (no glossy and colored inks)
THINGS NOT TO ADD IN COMPOST:
- Meat, bones or fish scraps
- Cheese, milk or dairy products
- Diseases and infected leaves
- Pet manures
- Start the composting process in a bin or on bare land (backyard)
- Place twigs or straw first facilitates easy drainage and aeration
- Add moist and dry waste alternatively as layers. Moist waste like peels, tea and coffee grounds etc. Dry waste like straw, leaves, wood ashes etc.
- Add green manure like grass clippings or nitrogen source which speeds the process
- maintain the temperature at 60-80 degree Celsius measure it using compost thermometer or place the hands in center of the pile if it is hot compare to surrounding temperature then it is fine
- Maintain moisture content around 40-60 %, too wet does not decomposes the waste and too dry kills the microbes. Just compost should feel moist not wet
- Maintain carbon to nitrogen ration at 25-30:1 (for 25-30 parts of carbon 1 part of nitrogen used) because if more carbon – decomposition process slow down, if more nitrogen – compost produces bad odor
- Turn the layers every week, as it needs oxygen for microbe’s respiration up to one month. Then interval can be extended until all materials have composted.
- A finished product will appear eventually, harvest the compost
WHEN TO HARVSET AND DURATION
- Finished product will be less than half the volume of materials started with
- Generally duration depends on type of waste used and procedure followed; usually it takes around 4-5 months.
- Harvest compost, when finished product is dark brown in color, smells like earth and moist
- The final product is sieved left behind particles thrown back to compost bin
How compost can be used:
- Mix compost to potting soil at 1:3 ration of compost to soil
- Top dressing as a nutrient during crop growth stages.
- Compost can also be used as liquid fertilizer – compost tea which can be used to spray on leaves to acts against leaf diseases
- Reduces the garbage percentage
- It is inexpensive
- Adding compost acts as soil conditioner results in healthier plants
- Conserves water
- Cleans air less garbage to landfills
- It benefits the soil microorganism.
Why it is failing and how we can overcome
- Lack of space so we can use bins or handmade containers
- Lack of knowledge on raw materials and conditions
- Unavailability of compost materials causing to fail in maintaining carbon and nitrogen ratio
- Unable to maintain the temperature and moisture in the heap, if it is too sunny provide a shade (full sun during winter)
How compost used as potting soil.
The compost you made in your own hands can be used as a potting soil by adding few extra supplements, since vegetable plants won’t grow in normal garden soil. Compost and few items are added to get a desired soil.
Things that require to good potting soil
Coco peat: it is the waste of coconut; it is light in weight and has good moisture holding capacity
Cow dung manure: cheap and easily available and acts as a disinfectant
Wood ash: to bring down the Ph. of soil (only if available)
Neem powder/cake: acts as a pest repellent
Garden soil /red soil: which will be quite sticky in nature holds the nutrients
These materials are added in the ratio of 30:30:30:10 i.e., red soil: compost: coco peat: cow dung, neem cake, wood ash
Products and how best compost can be utilized
During composting process if worms are added leads to production of vermicomposting (requires some specific temperature) this vermicomposting can be widely used in many sectors
Earthworms can be reared and can be sold directly in packets
Vermiwash can be produced and sold which acts as a good nutrient source for plants