Composting Organic Waste: Containers, Equipment And Techniques

composting organic waste with the proper containers, equipment and techniques.

Many people are intimidated by the idea of composting, thinking it's too complicated, takes too much space, or smells bad. The truth is, it can be as complicated or as simple as you choose to make it. Composting can be done in a space as small as a garbage can, and if done correctly won't emit bad odors at all. Not only will you have a supply of free nutrient-rich fertilizer for your yard and garden, you will cut down on the amount of trash hauled to the curb.

Stores and catalogs offer specialized equipment for composting, some of which can be quite expensive. These may be a good option if you want a large amount of compost in a short time, but they aren't necessary. Composting systems can range from a simple heap of grass clippings left to dry and rot in the corner of your yard to elaborate stacking boxes. One easy way to compost is to construct a small fenced area with wire mesh, fill it with material to be composted, and mix it once a week or so. A trash can with holes drilled in the sides so that air can penetrate is a simple option too, and if the lid fits tightly, you can mix the contents by rolling it around on the ground. Any container that retains the filling while allowing air and water to penetrate will do.

Some composting techniques will provide quicker decomposition than others. If you're not in a hurry, you can simply pile on the material and wait for nature to take its course. If you want to rush it along, you need to provide air circulation, mix the material occasionally, and keep it evenly moist. You can obtain compost activators in stores or catalogs, but these are not necessary. A can of beer dumped into the pile will serve just as well. For quicker compost, chip or shred material into smaller pieces.

Not every waste product should be composted, however. Grass clippings, leaves, and other yard waste is usually fine. Avoid composting material from diseased plants or chemically treated areas. Some kitchen waste is acceptable too, such as peels from vegetables and fruit. No animal products or oils should be put in the composter, because they will smell bad and attract pests. One exception to this is eggshells, which are a good source of calcium - but they should be rinsed out first. Some paper products, such as newspapers, can be placed in the compost pile as well, if they do not contain toxic inks or other chemicals.

Once the material has decomposed, it will take up much less space and resemble rich soil. You may wish to sift the compost through an old screen, leaving the larger pieces to compost longer. Spread it on your garden as you would apply fertilizer, and water after application. If the material is fine enough, you can spread it on your lawn with a broadcast spreader. Then start the process again! You may want to have two or three separate compost piles in different stages of decomposition to obtain a steady supply of compost for application.

Use your imagination to construct your compost container with materials you already have on hand, or those that are inexpensive to obtain. Keep in mind that smaller pieces will decompose quicker, but no special equipment or chemicals are needed to create compost unless you wish to hurry the process. Be careful with the material you add, especially from your kitchen waste, but composting can be a great way to dispose of organic material that would otherwise be added to a landfill. Compost is often better than commercial fertilizers too, because it contains many different nutrients that commercially obtained fertilizers omit. You have little to lose and much to gain from giving it a try.

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