Three Easy Ways to Compost
Be a more sustainable farmer while also bringing some of the most nutritious soil to your garden by composting! Compost is comprised of organic material that decomposes naturally. When plant, feces, and animals decompose they return nutrients back into the soil, making it the perfect fertilizer without using harmful chemicals. Here are three different composting techniques; adopt whichever suits your space and waste.
1. Compost Pile
This simple way to compost requires no outside resources; all you have to do is make a pile in your backyard. Although it is not necessary, some people prefer to use or make a container so it looks neat and keeps animals out. Whatever you decide, begin your pile underneath a tree to ensure optimal amounts of shade and moisture. The pile should be at least 3 ft X 3 ft X3 ft.
Start your pile with a 3 inches layer of woody material like wood chips, branches and twigs. The pile will then be built by adding 3 different layers in 45-45-10 ratios, and should be watered as you add them. First, is a layer of dry or mature material like fallen leaves. Next is where your kitchen scraps can be put to good use. Use coffee grounds, eggshells, apple cores, tea bags, citrus peels and salad scraps in a layer of immature vegetation. You can also put material like weeds and grass trimmings in this layer. Finally, you add soil. It’s a very simple recipe to nutritious soil while putting your waste to good use; just make sure to keep out meat, oily foods and dairy products.
Thinking about getting a new pet? Or maybe you are an apartment dweller dying to compost? Here’s your answer: red worms. Worms love to feast on your leftovers and their poop is the perfect fertilizer for your crops. Throw them in a container and they can live inside or outside in temperatures between 40-80° (avoid places with direct sunlight or heavy rain).
To determine the right container size and how many worms you will need, weigh your household food waste for one week. Make sure your container has one square foot per pound. The container should be 8-12 inches deep and can be plastic or wood. Drill holes at the top so worms can breathe.
To prep the container, a moist bed should be made with a combination of things like newspaper, dead plants, straw, cardboard and compost. The bed should fill ¾ of the bin and be loose so the worms can have a lot of room to move about. Once the bin is prepared, all you have to do is feed the worms! There should be about 2 pounds of worms per pound of food. Worms will eat eggshells, fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, and coffee grounds. Avoid citrus peels, meat, dairy, oily foods and grains. Other than adding food, the bin should not need to be maintained until after about 2 ½ months.
Bokashi is a mix of yeast and bacteria that will ferment to help speed the decomposition process. With a Bokashi system, you can compost almost all food scraps including meat and greasy pizza. Because of this system does not need to be well monitored, it is perfect for locations like school cafeterias. Check out step-by-step directions and movies on how to create a Bokashi compost in our handbook.