If you’re concerned about that pile of curbside waste and want to do your part in reducing our environmental impact, composting could be for you.
Composting is a natural process in which bacteria, along with other organisms, break down waste and turn it into humus, a dark, rich soil-like substance that can be used to nourish your gardens like a fertilizer. All you need to do is be conscious of what can be composted, set it aside from the rest of the waste and then you can start cultivating your gardens while reducing your carbon footprint.
Here are four quick, easy tips for establishing and maintaining your compost:
- Separate compostable green material from regular waste and put it in a plastic container. Green material include such things that rot quickly and provide moisture and nitrogen (for example, scraps of fruit and vegetables).
- Pile a layer of branches and small sticks about 3” to 4” high allowing for air circulation to prevent odors.
- Lay kitchen waste onto that layer, then cover with brown material (dried leaves, hay, dust and wood chips). It is important to balance the amount of kitchen waste with brown matter in equal parts.
- Add soil over top. In the soil are micro-organisms that help with matter breakdown and decomposition as well prevent insects and pest infestations. To prevent odors and maintain proper aeration, be sure to mix the pile when adding new material.
Typically it can take from six months to a year for compost to become ready to use, though it also depends on the material added and what type of brown material is used. To find out if your compost is ready, check that the matter is dark in colour, has an earthy organic odor and is crumbly yet damp to the touch.
There is a wide selection of compost options available, from DIY creations to ready-to-use systems you can purchase from a store. There are simple compost bins with wire fencing, trash can composters for those with no backyard, and vermicomposting for those interested in using a worm bin. Whatever your situation at home may be, there is sure to be an option that will suit you and your needs.