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Composting: How to Get Started

24Sep 2015

Composting is the method you need to deal with all of your organic waste, and gain further use of it. If you are an avid gardener, then you need no introduction to this, but for all the amateur gardeners out there, composting is the act of piling green waste (leaves and food leftovers) and drying them until they become soil fertilizer for your garden. This is an incredibly useful method if you want a nice garden and want to avoid going to the agriculture store and picking and buying different expensive fertilizers. You get to both get rid of all the waste in the house and make use of it without adding to landfills.

Composting 101
Generally, composting is a very basic thing. All you need is to do some landscaping in your garden and make room for a section which you can surround with walls or not, but the important thing is to make sure that it is the section exposed to direct sunlight for the most amount of time. The section needs to have constant conditions and needs to be neither too hot, nor too moist. You want to place some kind of container there and add a shovelful of soil from your garden. Metal bins are usually best as they heat up under sunlight and add to the temperature that the heap needs to start drying out. Then you start adding leaves and food waste to the container and should wait out until it completely dries up.

Composting is a process that requires a lot of patience. A heap of waste can be ready anytime between six months and two years, so if you were planning on planting something urgently, delay those plans or don’t use compost whatsoever. When the heap is ready and matured, it will look like it contains brownish crumbling soil and will emit an odour that might remind you of damp woods.

Types of Compost
Composting does not end with making a heap and waiting for two years. Well, it does, but only if you are composting passively. But this is still a part of gardening, so it requires your attention and some garden maintenance skills.

“Passive” composting is the lazy man’s composting. This is where you make a small heap and leave it to the sun to dry everything up, and once done, you can add to the heap again. This way you don’t have to spend too much time in the garden and the only maintenance you have to do is to occasionally add more green waste to the pile. But when you leave the pile to itself to dry out, it could start deteriorating in the opposite manner and attract germs, flies, and even emit bad odours.

“Active” composting, on the other hand, is the one that usually provides you with the best results. It always requires your attention and it works on bigger heaps. With active composting, you need to mix and turn over the heap whenever the topside dries out so that you introduce oxygen to the compost and spread its heat into the whole pile. Otherwise the moist parts of the heap might never fully or properly dry out to make for mature compost.

And if you master the active composting, you can learn to do it with more than just leaves and food waste. A little skill will allow you to turn weed control into a useful method of adding to the heap as the compost allows you to make useful fertilizer out of dangerous weeds. This is a double-edged knife, of course, so first timers beware. Just as the compost pile can become a great fertilizer, if the weeds are not properly composted, they can turn it into poison for your plants. So compost weeds only at your own risk.

And so this is generally how you approach composting. It is a very simple, yet very long process that requires due diligence and patience that not everybody possesses. If it sounds appealing to you, then go ahead and try it out – you never know how much it can help your with your gardening.

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