Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a gardener to compost. Some people compost so they can have a green and healthy lawn. Besides improving your soil’s health, composting helps reduce waste making it an environmental-friendly practice. Therefore, you will be on the right side of the green war if you decide to compost.
But how do you start composting?
Whether you are an experienced gardener or a beginner, there are several methods to make your compost. This article will discuss some popular methods to choose the best one for you and your garden.
1. Open Air Composting
Open air composting is one of the traditional methods of outdoor composting. It is the best way to achieve hot and cold composting. This method is also known as heap composting. To keep your garden neat, you must build an open bin with wood or fence your waste using wire mesh.
Air is one of the elements needed for successful composting because it helps the organic matter decompose quickly. You are halfway there with open-air composting because your compost pile is outside. However, you must regularly turn your compost pile using a shovel to aerate the whole pile equally. You will also need to water the pile to keep it moist.
So, what do you need for open-air composting:
- Yard space
- Wire or wood to fence around your compost pile (optional)
- Green, brown, and dry carbon materials for your pile
Depending on how big your pile is, it will take about 3-18 months for your compost to be ready. Additionally, this method is technically free. You will only spend money to buy the fencing wood or wire if you do not have any.
2. Direct Composting
Like open-air composting, direct composting is also an affordable, traditional method of making your compost. The method is quite simple. All you have to do is dig a 12-inch hole or trench in your garden, bury your organic waste and forget about it.
Because you are burying your waste, decomposition will be much slower because your pile is not getting enough air. Additionally, your options are limited to food waste as other things might be dug up by birds and other pests in the garden. Fortunately, food waste breaks down quickly.
Direct composting is great for farmers who know their planting seasons well because they can start creating their compost early enough. This ensures that the soil is ready for planting season. Decomposition for direct composting can take 6-12 months, depending on how deep and wide your pit is.
What you need for direct composting:
- Yard or garden space
- Green waste to put in your pit
3. Tumbler Composting
Tumbler composting is relatively new, but it is not as popular because it involves a lot of manual labor. As the name suggests, this composting method requires tumblers, drums, or large plastic containers where you store your organic matter.
You can have as many drums as you like, and they can be different sizes depending on your gardening needs. Experts recommend having a couple, so one cooks as you fill up the other. If you time them correctly, you will always have compost to put in your garden.
These drums must have several holes for ventilation and be turned regularly for even air distribution. They are also designed to hang above ground, meaning they do not get enough heat. That is why experts recommend using this method during the summer for the best results. However, if you fill your compost tumbler, it might have enough heat to enhance decomposition.
As you fill these tumblers with waste, soil, and other things needed for decomposition, they become heavier, making them harder to turn every time. Therefore, it is best to avoid this method if you do not have the physical strength to do it. Here’s what you need to start tumbler composting:
- Drums with a turning mechanism or compost tumbler (comes with a turning mechanism)
- Soil to add in for every one or two loads of organic matter
- Green and brown scarps and other healthy waste for the compost
Tumbler composting can cost anywhere from $20-$250, and it will take three to six months to harvest your compost.
4. Vermicomposting or Worm Farm Composting
Worm farm composting is a relatively modern way of composting and is very popular among farmers and home gardeners. As the name suggests, this composting method uses live worms to decompose waste making the process faster. The result is also healthier and more beneficial to the soil than other methods because of the worm castings.
Vermicomposting is not as easy as throwing worms into your compost pile. These worms have to stay alive throughout for the process to be successful. Therefore, you must maintain the right conditions in your worm bin by providing the worms with the right temperature, food, and moisture. You will also need to drain the worm tea as needed to ensure the environment is non-toxic for your wriggly friends.
This method is great for indoor gardeners, but you can also use it outdoors as long as the environment in the worm farm is conducive for the worms. Vermicomposting can cost you about $50-$200; it will take about four months before your compost is ready.
Here is what you need to get started vermicomposting:
- Worm bin
- 1 pound of worms (red wrigglers) depending on the size of your worm bin
- Green and brown waste at a ratio of 1:2
5. EMO or Bokashi Composting
EMO composting is another excellent composting method for indoor or small-scale kitchen gardeners. EMO stands for Effective Micro-Organisms, which are small bacteria that ferment or decompose organic matter. These bacteria do not need water or air to work, which is why it is a great method for people with little or no outdoor space.
Although there are many products to use for EMO composting, the most common one is the Bokashi bucket. The Bokashi bucket is a small container with a tight lid lined with an inoculated bran or wheat germ that feeds the EMOs as they ferment the organic matter.
The final part of this process needs to be done outdoors, where you will throw the broken-down matter from the bin onto an outdoor compost pile or bury it in a garden trench or pit. This process helps decompose the fermented mixture further into usable compost.
This method can cost you from $40-$120 depending on whether you buy the bokashi bin or make your own. The cost might also vary depending on how many additives you buy to add to your compost.
Below is what you need to start EMO or bokashi composting:
- Bokashi bucket or DIY with a bucket and spigot (bucket must have drainage)
- Food scraps
- Outdoor space to bury your mixture
6. Food Recycler or Electric Composting
Food recyclers are another great option for indoor gardens and small spaces. They are small enough to fit on countertops and can produce compost in 24 hours. The compost is created using a three-step process, drying, grinding, and cooling.
The drying process reduces the volume of the waste and sterilizes it by killing ant pathogens. The grinding process is similar to turning your compost pile to enhance decomposition. The final process, cooling, returns the compost to room temperature, where it is ready to be mixed with the soil.
Unlike traditional compost, compost from a food recycler is moist or rich in bacteria. Instead, it is dry and powder-like but still packed with beneficial nutrients for your garden soil. A food recycler costs between $150-$300. You must change the filters regularly to ensure the longevity of your machine, which might cost you more in the long run.
To start electric composting, you will need:
- A food recycler
- Food waste
7. Combination Composting
If you are a flexible farmer willing to adapt to any method that works at the time, combination composting is the best option for you. This method entails mixing or marrying the various methods of composting listed above as needed. Simply put, you do not have to use one specific method to create compost.
Combination composting is for experienced farmers and gardeners who know what they are doing. The main goal when using combination composting is to ensure that any method you choose enhances or improves the decomposition process.