Welcome to my 'How to Compost Food Waste' post!
First of all, I must congratulate you for taking the time to do your research on this topic of green living. Who doesn’t want a lush garden without having to spend a lot of money on fertilizers?
Composting is a very good way to make your fertilizer. Aside from providing you a good source of fertilizer, composting also gives you peace of mind of being able to do something for the environment by cutting down our carbon footprint.
With the hundreds of compost bins on the market, it can be overwhelming what to choose. If you want to achieve these right in the comfort of your home, let’s make our DIY compost bins.
I don’t refer to myself as a composting expert but I have adequate information regarding DIY compost bins that I would like to share with you. Here are a few tips on how to make a DIY compost bin right in your backyard, even if you are living in the city. Read on!
As a qualified teacher, I am passionate about education and the impact it can have on bettering our future. It is down to us individuals to do our research and make small changes to the way we live our lives.
These small changes are easy to make and can have a big impact on our health, the health of our family and our environment. This website is designed for everyday people looking to make these changes. Here you will learn a legitimate way to go green.
Let me be completely transparent with you, I am not here to pitch or sell anything to you. I am here to reveal and to assist you on your journey of going green!
Heath & Environmental Benefits...
Composting at home has many benefits. It eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers which are toxic to our health and cause land pollution. These chemicals are absorbed by the plants in our garden and our bodies when we eat the produce from these plants. This has the potential to cause some serious health issues.
Composting encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material. This reduces the amount of waste in landfill sites, reducing methane emissions, and lowering your carbon footprint.
Making your DIY compost bins in the backyard is so easy. No need to fret, there are many simple ways to make a compost bin without so much as breaking a sweat.
The first step to successful composting is finding the right place to do it. Find a corner that is accessible for throwing away your waste but out of the way too.
If you have a big yard, the best spot is near to your kitchen back door. This will encourage other members of the family to keep up with composting since it is accessible to them.
If you live in a hot and dry climate you are going to want a design that encourages the moisture to stay in your compost so it doesn't dry out and prevent it from becoming waterlogged.
A design without a floor can help maintain moisture levels. Positioning your compost under trees or in shade can help too. Just be sure to cover the compost so you do not get seeds falling into it which could sprout and take over.
If you live in a wet or cold climate you will want to keep your compost well-drained to prevent water clogging and warm so the anaerobic bacteria can break down the materials effectively. Keeping is covered will help keep the rain out and the heat in. Consider having an effective drainage system too. You could consider keeping your compost inside a shed.
You can make a compost bin from recycled materials and the compost itself is made from waste that would otherwise end up a landfill. You can choose to make a compost bin out of wood or recycled plastic. While we know that recycling plastic helps in cutting down energy and resource expenses, it still contributes to global warming.
When choosing a DIY compost bin, you can always start with materials that are available like scrap wood, wire screens, or broken pails. If you are using wood, be sure to check the logos on the wood to ensure it has not been treated with toxic chemicals as these will leak into your compost and therefore the plants that you grow.
Fruit crates are a good way to start with DIY composting. You can cover it up with scrap wire or screens so rodents can not get into it. You can easily conceal the fruit crate bins by lining some potted plants in front of the crates.
Wire screens can also be used. Wrap it around to form a cylinder, loop the wires where the screen overlapped to keep it in form. You can fit a floor to it by cutting a piece of wire screen and sticking it to one end. Loop the edge of the wire screen to the floor so it is stable.
A good size would have a diameter of at least 30 cm in diameter and 45cm in height. This is a good way of composting since it makes it easier to use the product. However, if you are looking for something bigger than I would recommend wood for better support.
Wood scraps are also a good choice for DIY compost bins. If you have long pieces of timber, and access to some power tools, you can make a composter with two or more sections. This provides you with the ability to rotate your compost. I like to make a new batch of compost every 4-6 months.
II prefer to not have a floor because this improves the quality of the ground beneath the compost and maintains moisture. I live in a hot climate so this is ideal for me. If you struggle with keeping water out of your compost you may want to consider a raised floor.
Fashion it so it looks like a picket fence, keeping the slats on the wall and floor close enough to protect it from rodents.
A broken pail can go a long way if you put a few holes in it to provide ventilation for the decomposing garbage. A rotating pale works phenomenally too, enabling the composting materials to mix and speeding up the process.
Set Up & Maintenance...
Work your garden around your compost bin. It should be foremost in your mind so you have easy access to fertilizer within your gardening area. A corner spot in your garden makes this idea very plausible as you can easily dump your leaves and wilted parts of your plants directly into your compost bin and access it when needed.
If you have considerable space to set up your DIY compost bin, it would be nice to set up something that can be used rotationally. This will allow the contents of one bin to decompose properly while you fill the other with new compost materials.
I have heard some stories from a few people that they spent time investing in a compost bin but couldn't get it to work effectively. Here I am going to explain how to ensure you get the most effective compost.
View your compost as a living thing. It has living bacteria within it and they have the same needs of all living things:
Keep it Well-drained...
A water-logged composting area can lower the decomposing capacity of your bins and encourage the growth of mold and other spores which are bad for our compost, gardens, and our health.
If you live somewhere with heavy rain, build a raised compost bin off the ground. Dig a small drainage canal towards the back of your compost bin, allowing the excess water to run off the back.
Keep it Moist...
Keeping the decomposing garbage moist is also a good way to speed up the process. Sprinkle it with water at least once a week and perhaps more in a hot climate. Use cardboard or wood to cover it and lock the moisture in.
Make the use of rainwater runoff. We have a worldwide water crisis and finding ways to conserve our water usage is important. This is particularly important in hot climates where water is scarce.
Warmth & Ventilation...
Keep the bins covered all the time to keep the compost bin warm. This stops the heat from evaporating. The warmth helps the micro bacteria to work at an optimal level. You do not want it to be too hot either as this will stop the bacteria from being able to break down the organic matter.
Having too much nitrogen will cause the compost to overheat. Nitrogen comes from wet organic matter so maintaining the right balance or wet and dry organic matter is essential - a ratio of 1:2 works best.
The microorganisms responsible for breaking down the material do this through the process of aerobic respiration. They require oxygen and a lack of oxygen will stop this process from happening.
For optimum composting speed, I recommend turning your compost with a shovel once per month. Doing it more frequently than this will prevent it from warming up to the right temperature. Any longer will starve the bacteria of the oxygen they require.
Turning comport also provides you with the opportunity to further breakdown the twigs and branches that might be it there. They have started to break down and with some pressure from the shovel, you can easily break them up and provide a larger surface area for the bacteria to work on. This too means you don't need to worry so much about breaking green material down when adding it to your compost, which saves you a lot of time.
This is an essential part of composting. There are two types of food that compost needs - wet/green and dry/brown food. Wet food is the fresh organic matter and can come from your kitchen or garden waste. Dry food does not contain moisture.
Your compost needs a healthy balance of these foods to stay healthy and decompose at an optimum speed. Maintaining the right balance within your compost will also prevent it from smelling bad.
- Grass clippings
- Coffee grounds and tea
- Vegetable and fruit scraps (not citrus)
- Trimmings from perennial and annual plants
- Annual weeds that haven't set seed
- Herbivore animal manure (cow, horse, sheep, chicken, rabbit, etc. No dog or cat manure)
- Fall leaves
- Pine needles
- Twigs and chipped tree branches/bark
- Straw or hay
- Corn stalks
- Paper (black a white newspaper, writing/printing paper, paper plates and napkins, coffee filters)
- Dryer lint
- Cotton fabric
- Corrugated cardboard (without any waxy/slick paper coatings)
Say No to Toxins...
Many things certainly should not be added to your compost because they contain toxins that can poison your compost, your garden, and the plants that you grow. Adding toxic materials into your compost contributes to land pollution. Reduce your need for these products and find ways to dispose of them safely.
If you are growing food to eat this is especially important.
- Carnivor feces
- Bags for coffee and tea
- Paper with colored ink
- Glossy paper
- Sawdust from treated wood
- Sticky labels on fruit and vegetables
- Ash from a coal fire
- Chemicals such as synthetic fertilizer
No Flies or Rodents...
Another issue that you should consider is keeping your compost free from flies and rodents out. Their droppings are not good for your compost and your neighbors a likely to disapprove of the uninvited guests.
The easiest way to do this is to stick to the basics and remember that your compost should be treated as a living animal. An unhealthy balance of food or moisture is going to create the wrong conditions and this attracts the pests. Keeping out fish and meat will prevent rodents and flies from being attracted to your compost too.
Keeping Odor in Check...
Another pressing concern of composting is the odor. Most people think that having a compost bin will be smelly but this only happens when it is not looked after properly. Maintain the right balance of green and brown matter, water, and allow for appropriate airflow.
Don't Forget Worms...
If you want to see great results, adding the right worms is essential as they worm castings, also known and vermicast, when they eat the organic matter in your compost bin. Their feces create an optimal soil enricher and this is why many gardeners want to have them in the garden beds too.
There are several different types of worms that you can use but the earthworm family is the best. African nightcrawlers (Eudrilus Eugenia), red wigglers (Eisenia fetida), and red worms (Lumbricus rubellus) are commonly used by many gardeners. 'Gardening Know How' recommend the latter two are ideal for composting because they prefer the compost environment over plain soil.
Having worms in your compost prevents large flies from having an interest in your compost too. I have tried this at home and it works very well. Be sure to keep some decomposed or decomposing materials in the bin where you keep earthworms. This will serve as their food so they don’t migrate. Keep the bin moist also and keep it warm by keeping a lid on.
Composting in the city has its limitations and therefore you will need a good strategy. If you are lucky enough to have a small back porch or balcony, you can easily fit a few small containers for composting your waste. If there is no back porch, speak to your neighbors and your landlord about placing a small compost bin near the entry door.
Check out this short video for some ideas on how to compost in a small apartment.
How to Compost Food Waste: The Final Verdict!
Composting can be challenging but it is a good way to keep you in touch with nature, improve our health and the health of our environment. Knowing that you have the power to grow your food right out of your doorsteps is a very liberating feeling. It creates independence and promotes sustainable living.
Setting up a good DIY compost bin needs a bit of planning and strategizing but it’s all worth the effort. I hope I have provided you with enough information to get you started but if you do have any questions, please just ask using the space provided below.