From This ………….
Dedicating this mini series to Patti Moore Wilson of Wednesday’s Child
Gardeners Be Doin’ It Too!
With this series of several small parts l want to be able to hopefully display to the readers that composting is not just fun, but easy to do. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to create your own magical formula in so far as compost, an organic material. You don’t need to dedicate thousands of hours to it, because not everyone has that kind of time. You don’t need to have twenty acres of spare ground, because depending upon the composting you are wanting to produce and achieve you can make the product in a relatively small space.
The things l hear the most from people about composting is that it’s not fun, it eats your free time, it takes up loads of space, it’s messy, it’s unhygienic, it’s smelly, it’s a fire trap, my neighbours wont like it, it will attract pests, it’s illegal and it’s expensive and the list trust me, goes on!
Unless you are living in an environment that has specifically forbade you to make a compost heap of your own, and these places do exist, and that’s not being funny, because NOT everybody can make open compost heaps, it’s reflective upon where they live. BUT, there are still many ways to produce compost that do not require huge amounts of garden space. These days, we even have very efficient indoor compost units. But it is worth checking with your local authorities first just in case there are problems to be had with you starting any composting procedures.
What is Composting?
Yesterday we looked at the reasons behind the Why should I Compost? Today l want to look at What Is Composting?
Simply put, composting is organic recycling and upcycling as well.
You are taking a discarded organic waste product and upcycling it into a working product that is rich in soil nutrients. Composting is basically the decomposition process, it’s a mixture of decayed matter which is used as a enricher, booster, feriliser for a gardeners plants, vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers increased production.
It’s a great way of becoming closer to the earth if you wish, it’s certainly a brilliant way of empowering yourself into the environment and sustainability. I read Patti’s comment on Part 1 only yesterday and l shall quote her … “I had no idea we could even compost human waste…! Kind of gross but goes with my resolve to become a zero waste household…” That there says it all, because the beauty of composting is that you actually could or at least 97/8% acheive that. You could do it all, and some composting practices can achieve 100%.
Composting is a healthy way of reducing your footprint, your food wastes and reducing gas emissions too. So, to anti-composters who can create an excuse for virtually anything – the reality is that really the biggest contender potentially against composting is you. We are the only ones on a personal level that will agree with starting it or disagree with starting it. Once you have made the decision for yourself to composting, the rest becomes a breeze!
The more you compost, the more you will want to compost, the more you will learn about it, the more you will want to learn about it. That’s the truest formula right there – it is always us. We are our own obstacles as much as our own motivators!
Shredded paper is great!
So,What is compost?
Well it’s too easy to simply say decaying organic matter as that is quite far reaching isn’t it? I mean a dead body is decaying organic matter and unless you are looking to offload one of those [which by the way, that’s too slow, l suggest pigs ….jus’ saying] then what can be taken into account?
Well twigs, bracken, plants, kitchen vegetable waste, printed paper, cardboard, shredded paper, grass cuttings, hedge trimmings, earth, older organic composts, tree leaves, coffee grounds, vegetarian animal manures [note l said vegetarian so no go to carnivore poo], wood shavings, hair and fur, shredded bark, wood pulp, last seasons vegetable plants and flowers.
There are some items that whilst you can ‘compost’ you need to exercise caution with but also it will come down to the type of compost unit you are using and the composting recipe you have adopted.
Wood, branch and twig shavings are great!
Ok – carnivore poo – the waste from meat eaters – such as humans, dogs, cats and also pigs as they eat anything! The problem is that carnivore poo contains pathogens which can be fatal. Most composting units cannot cope with the required heats to burn off that kind of waste – there are however other units that can deal with this and we will discuss those later on in the series.
Human, dog, cat and pig poop not so great!
Certain weeds are also a no go, as they can still remain active but dormant in the finished product. I throw most of my weeds in, but then l am a hot composter and the heat level of my pile is sometimes very high, and it tends to kill off most weeds. But not everyone as said can achieve that heat requirement. Creepers and invasives are the ones you need to avoid, but l will discuss options later in the series as well.
Whilst l do use the likes of egg cartons, shredded paper, cardboard and newspapers, l don’t tend to put in magazines or glossy or coloured papers because whilst it’s safe to compost there are other residues in place on these coloured items – you can avoid this by shredding the paper down first, but if you don’t have a shredder then my advice is recycle this the normal way.
Some food scraps are best left out of the heap, and others need some common sense. I compost eggshells, but l wash them first to ensure there is no unwanted trace elements that could potentially attract unwanted visitors, like night scavengers. The only liquid you really want to be adding to your heap is water and not the likes of milks or oils from cooking etc. You can put bread in, as it’s great for roughage, but always remember to cover these with a layer of compost to cloak scents. I also put in bones if l have them, but l dry them out first and then crush them underfoot or with a hammer and basically take them way past the chewing side.
Not Compostable Composting!
There are items that you simply don’t compost.
Such as planks of wood and glass – sounds obvious doesn’t it? But some people view a compost heap in the same light as a trash heap, and these two piles are very different.
Diseased organics – if you have had potato blight or attacking rusts or things of this nature do not compost these items, as these will not die off and you will have them present in your new compost batch and the disease will live on.
Meat, fish, whole bones, fats and cooking liquids – do not compost at all, unless you really are after a menagerie of scavenging beasties!
Meaty bones, not so great! These WILL not naturally break down in the space of a year!
Something l do include in my heap, and l do it, purely because l do have an open compost bin are broken ceramics and rocks, because they will and they do add as roughage, and when it comes to turning the compost their inclusion further helps to break down the waste and add to the decompositioning process, but not all units support these.
Gardeners Be Doin’ It Too!
……………… To This!