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How to make organic compost

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Making organic compost is a great way to increase your household’s sustainability and reduce the amount of garbage sent to landfills where it contributes to global warming. This way, we can take our waste and transform it into a resource.

Maintaining an organic compost is an economical and rewarding way to boost your soil’s health and the success of your garden. The resulting “black gold” improves soil fertility and nourishes microorganisms, resulting in an overall healthier and richer growing foundation.

So whether you’re a hobby or master gardener, backyard digger or raised bed planter, organic compost is crucial to your success.

How to Make Organic Compost

There are two key things to consider before making your organic compost: the container and your composting ingredients.

The container

The container you choose is based on your method of organic composting. Some people decide to forgo the container and pile compost instead. While this is certainly the easiest and cheapest method, it’s also the riskiest one.

Leaving your compost exposed to the elements can attract unwanted animals like dogs, snakes, and raccoons. Heavy winds can carry top materials and sunny days steal valuable moisture from your pile. Plus, decomposing household scraps can be unsightly and pungent.

You can DIY your own compost container from a regular garbage bin in less than 30 minutes with this tutorial from The Happy Housewife, or, you could choose one of the many for-purchase options. Remember, having a least one secure side for your pile to lean against will help retain moisture and structure. Raising your container will further protect it from curious and hungry critters.

If you’re looking for speedy container composting that doesn’t require manual tilling, a rotating composter is everything you want and more. Pricier than other options, sure, but after the microorganisms flourish on the walls inside, your composting time is quicker than ever, minus a bunch of effort.

Your ingredients

Your ingredients depend on your household’s diet and whether or not you raise manure-producing animals like cows, horses, or rabbits.

As a general rule, compost is comprised of green and brown matter. Vegetable, fruit, and yard waste scraps, pieces of ripped up or shredded paper, coffee grounds, and crushed egg shells make for the best combination of black gold ingredients.

Cat litter, meat, fish, bones, and used cooking oils are all also compostable, but these ingredients can take a lot longer to decompose than plant-based materials. Depending on how much space you have available, it might be best to have separate composts.

With any ingredients, the trick is to keep the moisture and temperature at optimal levels to prevent rot and mold.

Check your compost while tilling to see if it’s soppy (bad) or dry (also bad). If it’s soppy, mix in some organic soil. If it’s dry, try adding a little water or compost tea to each new layer added. Make sure not to drench the pile.

Scraps to save for your organic compost:

  • Fruit pits and peels
  • Crushed eggshells and ripped cardboard carton
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Leftovers
  • Paper items - shredded or ripped
  • Hair or fur
  • Vacuum contents
  • Dead houseplants - best to remove any diseased leaves first

Work the magic

It’s pretty amazing witnessing household scraps turn into black gold, but how much work is really involved?

Well, the amount of work required to upkeep the compost will, again, depend on a few factors, including the bin you choose and whether you’ll do year-round composting or seasonal.

On average, compost needs tilling every one-to-two weeks, unless you do a lasagna method and leave alone. Layered piles that are left to nature will take longer to make into organic soil than those that are aerated by tilling.

The total work involved is based on how many scraps you want to decompose and your chosen method of composting.

For some households, regular heavy-lifting tilling with a shovel just isn’t an option. For others, this counts as a great form of exercise. Still, others only need a small container and some earthworms to compost from the comfort of their couch. Whatever your case, there’s a sustainable solution ready and waiting.