Compost: Black Gold?
In our world today we have many different opportunities to go green. We can use solar energy to power our homes, drive hybrid cars, re-purpose old things to give them new life and even live in tiny homes. One of the most over-looked ways to go green is the practice of composting. Composting is an easy way to turn waste into a useful resource. Compost in small amounts can change your life, compost in large amounts can change cities.
What can compost do?
A good quality compost can increase your yields, feed your soil with beneficial microbes and supercharge your garden. For any gardener, urban farmer, homesteader; compost is the life blood that fuels any garden. With all of this talk about black gold, supercharging and changing lives you may find yourself asking, what is compost?
What is compost?
Compost simply means decayed organic material used as a plant fertilizer. Compost is broken down waste that turns into soil and then is used to feed gardens.
The importance of Compost
There is nothing more important to a gardener than compost. As a matter of fact, compost is considered the “black-gold” that fuels the garden by re-charging the soil with the necessary nutrients and micro-organisms needed to produce delicious fruits and vegetables. When a plant grows, it uses up resources found in the soil. Think about it like this: you work in an office where you make copies throughout the day, you go into the copy room to use the copy machine only to find out there is no copy paper anywhere to be found. The room was out of paper because no one chose to re-stock it for the next person. Plants using up nutrients can be seen the same way. If no one replaces the nutrients, the next planting will not have enough to thrive. We can refill the nutrients by adding compost to our soil.
How can I start composting?
The earth naturally does this process itself in forests across the globe. In the fall, the leaves start to change colors and eventually fall to the earth.. Layers upon layers of leaves rest on top of the soil and breaks down over the winter making food for the trees. This topsoil compost found in forests is called humus. This process helps the trees continue to grow, helps retain water in the soil by adding a layer of mulch and provides food for the natural micro-organisms found in the soil.
Gardening methods that use a similar technique
This works so well that we have imitated it in our gardening/ growing techniques. The Back to Eden and Hugelculture methods both use a similar concept of building soil by layering organic material that slowly breaks down.
Can we mimic mother earth?
Can we simulate this in our homes and gardens? Yes, absolutely! I believe every home should be composting in order to give back to their piece of earth.
Composting is easier than it seems because there are several ways to compost and products to help you. The way you choose to compost is up to you but will greatly benefit you and your garden. The method you choose will also depend on the resources you have available; the space you have to devote, how much and what type of waste you produce.
The different types of composting
The different types of composting are hot, cold, indoor, outdoor and vermi-composting; however no matter what method you choose they all have the same basic principle. For the purpose of this article we will look at the “lasagna” method of composting.
How to compost
As we said before compost means decayed organic material so composting is the process by which we allow that material to decay and break down creating that nutrient rich black gold for your garden. Composting needs four things; nitrogen rich materials (greens), carbon rich materials (browns), water and oxygen in order to properly break down. These four things are absolutely crucial to making your own compost. The compost pile needs the proper balance of the necessary ingredients and just like in life that balance can be hard to find. Once you get the balance down you will begin to make some of the best compost and it will supercharge your garden. Some of the best ingredients to compost are leaves, grass clippings, household kitchen scraps such as eggshells and produce.
The easiest method
The easiest way to start composting is what gardeners call the lasagna method by starting a compost pile by layering nitrogen rich materials follow by a layer of carbon rich materials. Alternate these layers as well as adding water and some soil every couple of layers will put you well on your way to making compost. The water in addition to the other ingredients will cause your compost pile to heat up starting the decomposition process. You want to make sure to turn it every couple of weeks so that the pile can evenly break down. This process can take anywhere from 2-12 months depending on the amount of time you devote to turning it. That is the beauty of compost, you do not have grow vegetables to be able to use it. Compost is great to add to flower beds, fruit trees or even indoor plants to add nutrients.
Use what you have
The great thing about compost is that it can be completely made from as little or as much as you have. It can even be made from completely free local ingredients such as leaves that were collected by your neighbors that have been set out to the trash, grass clippings from your yard and even free used coffee grounds from local shops. Compost can be made for free and then used to fertilize your garden, supercharging your soil and giving you the best opportunity to have an excellent harvest.
Just start already.
We should be composting to feed their gardens but also to help reduce the amount of waste going into local landfills. With the availability of products to make composting easy in addition to the ingredients to make awesome compost even easier to find makes composting something that anyone can do.
Composting is a great way to give back to our little piece of earth. If we are successful with our efforts to reduce our global foot print then we are working toward a future for children and grandchildren to be able to grow their own food as well. Help out by doing your part to make the world a better place for future generations.
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