Compost is a great way to reduce your trash naturally, and it can be really useful in your garden! According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow.” That means more veggies and fruits, a beautiful flower or herb garden, and a healthier garden overall. Best of all, it won’t cost you a fortune, since you’re basically recycling your compostable trash and turning it into plant food! So how do you create your own compost heap at home?
The steps are easy, and you’ll be surprised at the change in your garden, as well as the drop in your trash!
Why should I create my own compost heap?
It’s one of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in a landfill. About 30% of what we throw away are food scraps and yard waste. Composting reduces the amount of methane gas that is produced (a major factor in global warming), but it can also reduce trash can smells. In the end, you’ll have rich fertilizer that will help you cultivate an amazing garden! I know I’m completely in love with my compost heap, and it’s done wonders for my garden.
How to create your own compost heap at home
Preferably, you should pick a spot outside for your compost heap. You’d need about a square meter of space, and a bin. A closed bin is really the best choice if you’re worried about how it’ll look or smell! Making one is very easy, or if you need to, you can usually find one at a gardening store (just make sure it’s not too tall! About waist size is good. Also try to put some protection around it if you have pets that’d be drawn to the heap. My dogs have gotten used to it, and I’m not too bothered by the chickens, but you might have a few nosy pets!
What can I compost?
Almost anything! Most things from the kitchen and garden are compostable. Things like egg shells, cut flowers, coffee grounds and paper filters, old newspapers, tea or tea bags, pet hair – or your own hair! – matches, toothpicks… it’s a pretty long list. The real trick is keeping a balance between ‘green’ waste, and ‘brown’ waste. Green waste are things like fruits and veggies – the squishy things. Brown waste is dry, like wood shavings, leaves, newspapers, etc. The brown waste is rich in carbon, and will feed all the critters that break down your trash into compost. The green materials supply nitrogen, which will build the cell structure of your new soil.
Moisture is also key, so you might want to sprits your compost heap with a little water every now and then if it’s too dry. Try to keep the bin a little ventilated as well – without air, the pile will rot and start to smell pretty bad. If you’ve got your mix right, you should be smelling nothing but dirt.
What can’t I compost?
You should try to avoid composting dairy or animal products. Although they can be compostable, they will draw pests and will definitely smell. Fats, oils, pet waste, etc, also fall under the ‘try-to-avoid’ category. Especially avoid adding any plants that are sick or have insect infections. It could ruin your whole compost heap and make it completely useless.
How long does it take?
It’ll take a few weeks for your scraps to turn into soil. In the meantime, make sure you mix it up every week with a shovel or garden fork. If it seems to stagnate, add more green waste, and make sure the pile stays relatively moist. If it’s too wet and smelly, and brown waste, and turn the compost more frequently. When your compost looks and smells like soil, it’s ready! PLEASE remember to wear a mask when you turn your compost, and NEVER use a plastic big that seals completely. Some of the fungi that break down your compost can release spores if your compost isn’t ventilated or becomes too dry. These spores are NOT good for your health if you breath them in. Also, never store your compost indoors or in dry areas – it’s always best to keep them outside in the shade where they can stay moist.
How can I use my Compost?
Add it to your garden beds, plant pots, etc, or just sprinkle it on top. Remember, compost doesn’t replace soil. It just fertilizes your soil and provides extra nutrients. Providing it a few times a year will give you the best results.
So, do you have your own compost heap, or have you decided to create one? I’d love to see your work, so please feel free to share your images with me!
Until next time, stay Greenish!