Thanks to grade school science, composting is often perceived as a time-consuming, unsavoury activity that usually occurs in the countryside. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Composting at home is an easy way to reduce the production of waste at home — watching organic waste turn into nutritious fodder for soil is an especially rewarding process. If you’ve developed a green thumb, making your own compost at home from leftover waste will help you boost your balcony garden in an all-natural way. Interested in finding out more about composting at home? Here’s what you need to know.
What is compost?
Compost can refer to a wide range of organic material that helps plants grow. This could include anything from stray twigs to leftover vegetable stems to banana peels. When put together, micro-organisms work on breaking down the organic material and turning it into a nutrient-packed fertiliser for soil that helps plants grow and flourish. And the good news is that you can do it entirely by yourself at home.
What can be used for compost?
On a broad scale, all types of organic material. This includes leftover stalk, stems and peels from vegetables that you’ve never known what to do with. The same also applies to the waste matter produced from fruits — from apple cores and watermelon shells to avocado rinds and even spiky pineapple skins. You’ll be glad to know that the leftovers in your fridge can find a more productive destination than the trash can as well, from stale bread and pasta to cereal. Other items acceptable include general kitchen waste — think tea leaves, eggshells and coffee filters.
However, it pays to bear in mind that there’s a list of no-nos for your compost pile as well. As a rule of thumb, anything oily or greasy is best left out. This includes meat, fish, butter, yoghurt, cheese, milk and animal fat. Pet and human waste shouldn’t be used either as it can make the compost matter unstable.
How to make your own compost at home
Once you have gathered your organic waste matter, it is time to turn it into nutritious soil fodder. If you’re doing this for the first time, a good first step is to begin by simply collecting organic scraps during the week and storing it in a designated tub placed outside in a dry, shady spot.
It is essential to aim for a good mix of greens (fruit and veggies) that are rich in nitrogen as well as browns (sawdust and plant trimmings) that are loaded with carbon.
Every now and then, turn the compost around with a shovel to let the organic material aerate and add water to keep the contents sufficiently moist. When adding in newer materials, make sure large pieces are shredded or chopped and moisten dry materials beforehand.
Cover the top of your compost bin with a tarp to retain the moistness of the organic matter and let the microorganisms do their work in peace. In a few weeks, you’ll begin noticing a change and once the material has turned dark and rich in colour, it will be ready for you to use.
The payoff for your efforts comes in knowing that you are saving your food waste from going to a landfill where it will emit harmful methane gases into the environment. Making your own compost at home, can help make a significant contribution to preventing climate change.