Composting is a great way to reduce landfill and dispose of organic waste in an environmentally friendly way. The modern world has a real problem with waste management, so the more we can keep out of the landfill, the better.
The beauty of it is that it takes our natural rubbish and turns it into a usable product. The question is, what can composting be used for? Compost is, first and foremost, a type of natural fertilizer. It can be used to feed plants, enhance their growth, and improve the quality of the soil.
Many gardeners choose to use compost over chemical fertilizers as they are a natural alternative and more environmentally friendly. It is still an effective choice, creating an environment where plants can thrive. We take a look at compost and all of its uses, exploring the following:
- What can composting be used for?
- How can I use compost as fertilizer?
- What are the benefits of composting?
- Are there any disadvantages to using compost?
- What material can be composted?
- What material cannot be composted?
- How can I start a compost?
What Can Composting Be Used For?
As mentioned above, compost is a natural plant fertilizer—the process of composting turns organic matter into a nutrient-rich substance that can help plants grow. The compost can then be used for a range of purposes, including gardening, landscaping, and organic farming.
Compost is usually added to gardens to help plants grow, although it has other uses as well. It can improve the soil and overall well being of the natural environment, as well as acting, like an organic pesticide by keeping away weeds and other harmful pests.
Additionally, compost can be used to improve an existing ecosystem. People have used the material to prevent erosion and construct wetland areas. The substance is also sometimes used as a cover for a landfill.
As you can see, there is a range of uses for compost. It really depends on the particular environment and requirement as to how you would use this natural fertilizer.
How Can I Use Compost as Fertilizer?
The most common use of compost is as a natural fertilizer that enhances plants and helps them to grow. There is a range of ways that compost can be used as fertilizer. If you are wondering how to apply the substance to your garden, take a look at the following methods to see how you can use compost to improve your garden.
Use it like mulch
One of the easiest and most common ways to use compost is to spread it like mulch. It makes a great alternative for mulch, as it is high in nutrients and will be able to feed your plants with the things they need.
To use it this way, simply spread your compost around your plants, creating a thick top layer. Make sure that all of the area is covered properly; however, the layer should not be more than 40mm thick.
There is no way to use too much compost, so be generous in your application. It is an organic material that is completely safe and very good for your plants. Just remember to only ever use old manure in your compost or wait until it has completely decomposed. Fresh manure should never be applied directly to your plants and gardens.
Be aware that this option requires a lot of compost. If you only have a small composting system, you may need to buy some compost if you want to use it as mulch.
Use it to create a garden bed
To truly obtain the benefits of compost, create an entire garden bed using it. Start by digging out a hole where you want to create a garden. Fill this space with your compost and old manure, then leave it for a couple of weeks. You must leave it to sit as this will ensure all of the organic matter decomposes properly. You don’t want to be adding plants to organic waste that hasn’t broken down.
After the sitting period, it’s time to add the plants. They will instantly have access to the benefits that compost provides and will be able to access the nutrients from the soil.
Use it as potting mix
You can use compost to create a natural potting mix that is great for plants. The easiest way to do this is to grab a wheelbarrow and use this as your mixing pot. To create a potting mix, you will need compost, river sand, and well-shredded sphagnum moss. Add each of these ingredients to the wheelbarrow using the following ratio: 4 parts compost, 2 parts river sand, and 1 part sphagnum moss. Mix these together.
The compost you will make yourself, while river sand and sphagnum moss should be available at your local garden supply center. The final product is a high-quality potting mix made from all-natural ingredients. Good for the environment and for your plants!
Use it to add moisture to the soil
Compost is quite a damp substance and, therefore, can be used to moisturize the soil. If you have dry soil, try digging into it and mixing in compost. It will add water to the environment, but it is the actual make-up of compost that helps the soil to absorb the moisture.
If the soil dries out, it generates a wax-like layer that makes it difficult for water to penetrate. Microorganisms live in compost, and these help to break down this barrier, allowing water to seep in. Not only does compost add water to your soil, but it also helps the soil to be able to absorb it.
Use it as a liquid fertilizer
Compost is great for nourishing plants and helping them to thrive. An effective way to do this is by creating your very own natural, liquid fertilizer.
- Begin by placing a portion of compost into a bucket.
- Next, add water. You want to use a ratio of 1 part compost to 3 parts water.
- Set the bucket aside for three days to allow the mixture to sit.
- During this time, you should stir the contents 2-3 times to create airflow.
- Once the three days are up, you will have an effective, natural liquid fertilizer. It can be administered directly to your plants by pouring it onto your gardens and allowing it to soak into the soil.
This organic fertilizer is 100% recyclable. If you have leftovers, simply add the remaining liquid fertilizer back to your compost heap. It will continue to decompose with the other matter and can be turned into liquid fertilizer again in the future.
What Are the Benefits of Composting?
There are so many benefits associated with composting, and this is why gardens often choose to use this method to recycle their waste and feed their plants.
Some of the advantages of composting and compost are:
It’s good for the environment
The main benefits of composting and the reason that most people engage in this process is that it is good for the environment. Rather than disposing of trash for it to become landfill, composting provides us with an alternative option for recycling our organic waste. It is a natural process that does not use any nasty chemicals, and the end product is a great way to enhance our plants and gardens. It really is a win-win all around!
It improves soil health
Compost improves the quality of soil for various reasons.
Firstly, it contributes to the entire ecosystem by creating a healthy environment where each element can play its role. This cycle is able to run more effectively and ensure everything remains balanced and happy.
Secondly, it adds oxygen to the soil. This is beneficial for two reasons.
The first is that it allows the soil to retain water. Sometimes this can be a problem, and dry soil does not support the growth of plants. The second reason why aeration is good for soil is that it creates an effective drainage system. This allows water to flow through the soil and get to the places it needs to go.
It is rich in nutrients
The end result of a composting process is a substance that is very rich in nutrients. This makes it exceptional plant food as it can provide the things that soil sometimes lacks. By adding compost to soil and garden beds, plants can access these nutrients whenever they need to.
It creates an environment where microbes can grow
Microbes are extremely important for the ecosystem, and compost helps to create a place where they can exist. They assist in the decomposition of organic matter and also maintain the health of soil. Healthier soil means healthier plants, so it’s definitely worth keeping microbes around.
It creates an environment that attracts worms
Similarly, worms are also an indication of a healthy environment and healthy soil. They, too, aid the decomposition process by consuming organic matter and turning it into castings. Worms also help to maintain the presence of air and water in the soil.
It is a natural pesticide
Unlike chemical pesticides that can harm the environment, compost is a natural alternative that is effective and safe. It prevents the growth of weeds, keeping an environment healthy, and ensuring there is enough space for plants to grow and thrive.
It manages disease
Compost can be used to prevent disease from spreading in gardens. Quite often, these types of diseases will target vegetable gardens, but compost can be used to deter their existence. It also means you won’t have to use sprays that can be filled with chemicals. Compost has been known to be particularly effective in the protection of tomato plants.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Using Compost?
The use of compost is mainly beneficial – it’s cost-effective, good for the environment, and it actually works in improving plant growth and health. There is, however, one main disadvantage of using this natural fertilizer in your garden.
The downside of compost is the time it takes to create it. If you decide to create your own compost at home, it will be 3-6 months before you can actually use it in your garden. In the meantime, you will have to purchase compost, and this can be inconvenient and expensive. It also means that you don’t know what materials are in the product.
What Material Can Be Composted?
Most organic matter can be put in your compost and turned into natural fertilizer. You should aim to put as much waste as possible into your compost bin. Not only will this reduce the amount of rubbish you are sending to landfills, but you are also increasing the amount of high-quality compost you are generating.
The following is a list of items that can be put in your compost:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps (including skin, cores, and seeds)
- Vegetable oil
- Coffee grounds
- Eggshells (crushed into small pieces)
- Cut flowers
- Lawn and tree clippings
- Leaves and sticks
- Vacuum dust (as long as all other items have been removed)
- Shredded paper and cardboard
What Material Cannot Be Composted?
If something is not organic, it should not be composted. Materials like plastic will not break down, and it will ruin your compost. You will be unable to use it in your garden as it will be full of rubbish.
Do not put the following things in your compost:
- Meat and bones
- Dairy products (including cheese and yogurt)
- Any plants, grass or trimmings that have been treated with chemicals or have a disease
- Synthetic materials
- Magazines (they have a coating on the paper)
- Pet droppings
- Sawdust that has been treated
How Can I Start a Compost?
Starting a home compost is a great way to ensure you have a constant supply of natural fertilizer. It is cost-effective, and you will always know exactly what is in your product. Also, you will be able to significantly reduce your landfill by recycling all organic waste.
The following steps will take you through the process of creating a home compost so you, too, can enjoy the benefits of this process and resulting material.
Collect the necessary materials
Before you can build your home compost, you will first need to collect a range of supplies. Begin by finding yourself a compost bin. The size of this will depend on your specific needs and available space.
However, most hardware stores and garden supply centers have a range of options to choose from. Do some browsing and find one that suits your requirements. You will also need to pick up some sort of material that will be used to cover the bin. A tarpaulin or piece of carpet works effectively.
Next, you will need to gather a range of materials that will actually be used to create the compost. These include a coarse organic material such as hay or sticks, soil, fresh manure, organic waste, and water.
Once you have all of these materials, you are ready to start building your compost.
Create a base layer in the bin
The first step to building your compost is to lay a base layer in the bin. This layer will be made of the coarse material you collected, whether that be hay, straw, or sticks. Essentially this material is used for draining your compost. The bottom layer should be approximately 10cm thick to provide a good foundation for the rest of the layers.
Add layers, alternating between materials
Next, continue to add alternating layers to create your compost. You should use a range of organic waste types, including things from the garden like dried leaves as well as wet food scraps like peel or apple cores.
Take a material and create a layer that is 15cm thick. Then build another 15cm layer on top of it using a different organic material. For instance, if you begin by laying wet food scraps on the bottom layer, follow it with a layer of dried leaves from your garden.
Each layer should also contain soil or manure. This is the substance that makes the entire compost system work. Soil and manure create heat, which starts the decomposition process and ensures that the organic matter is broken down. They also add bacteria that encourage the decomposition process. Simply sprinkle some of this material on top of each layer as you keep adding organic waste.
Keep building these layers until you get close to the top of your bin.
Remember to add water
Every single layer should be moist. You don’t want your compost to have puddles or dripping with water, but it should be consistently damp through the mixture. Make sure you are adding enough water as you build the compost. If a layer seems dry, add some water before building the next one.
Cover the compost
When you have used all of your organic waste or reached the top of your compost bin, it’s time to cover it up. Take the piece of material (tarpaulin, piece of carpet, or similar) and place it over the top of the compost bin like a lid.
Leave it to sit for three months
The compost should be set aside for three months. This time allows it to begin breaking down the matter, turning your waste into an effective, natural fertilizer. For best results, leave your compost bin outside where it is exposed to sunlight and natural moisture. This will speed up the composting process.
Aerate the compost pile
At the three month mark, it’s time to add some oxygen to your decomposing mixture. Take all of the material out of the compost bin, and simply put it back in again. This will move it all around, allowing air to enter the compost. Place the lid back on and leave it for another three months.
Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on March 26, 2020.
Use it on your garden
When the waiting period is over, you will have compost that is ready to go straight in your garden. Consider your requirements and choose one of the methods above to enhance your plant growth.
What If I Don’t Want to Start a Compost at Home?
Home composting has many benefits and is most cost-effective when produced at home. If for some reason, composting isn’t your thing or you simply do not have the room for your own composting system, it is possible to buy compost to use in your garden.
Typically, compost can be purchased in small bags or in bulk. If you only have a couple of pot plants or a tiny garden to look after, you will probably only need a bag of compost to get you started. If, however, you are looking at using compost for a large area and multiple garden beds, it is better value to purchase it in bulk.
You can buy compost from your local hardware store or garden supply center. Compost bags can be picked up, although if you order it in bulk, a truck will make a delivery to your home.
There are a range of things you should keep in mind if you are purchasing compost to ensure you are getting a good product:
Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on March 26, 2020.
It should always smell good
Most people think that compost should smell bad. Given that it is made from waste, it makes sense that it would produce some type of bad odor. The reality is that good compost should smell good. When compost is ready, all waste has finished decomposing and has become a usable fertilizer. If it still smells like rubbish, then the mixture is not ready.
Compost should also never smell like ammonia or chemicals. If it does, it is likely to contain materials that are not organic and can be harmful to your garden.
It should never contain garbage
If you can see rubbish in the compost, you should not buy it. In fact, if you happen to get a delivery of compost that contains rubbish, you are absolutely entitled to a refund. Compost is for recycling organic waste, and materials like glass or plastic should never exist in this mixture. Rubbish is a sign of contamination and ruins the organic nature of compost.
It should never contain toxic waste
While this seems like an obvious one, big compost plants have previously been made using sewage sludge. As you can imagine, this is not good for your garden and is more likely to kill your plants than help them to grow. Check the ingredients of your compost, and if you see “biosolids” listed as one, do not purchase this product.
It should always look like soil
If you are wondering how to tell good compost from bad, take note of this point. Good compost should look like soil. It should be a similar color and have the same consistency.
Many people think that compost is okay if it has chunks of organic waste visible; this is not the case. If you can see food scraps in your compost, it means that it is not ready for use in your garden as the organic waste has not yet fully decomposed. Look for soft, dark, soil-like compost for the best results with your plants.
It should not be mixed with soil
If you purchase compost that has been mixed with soil, you are essentially ripping yourself off. To ensure you get your money’s worth, make sure that you are purchasing a material that is 100% compost. Soil is mixed with compost to make the product go further. However, it also dilutes the nutrients of the compost. Talk to the provider to confirm that the compost you are purchasing is, in fact, only compost, rather than a mix that is part plain soil.
Composting is a socially-conscious waste management option that will reduce the amount of landfill you generate. It also provides nutrient-rich compost that has a range of uses. While many people think that compost is only good for feeding plants, it is so much more than that. It improves the health of soil, contributes to the ecosystem, and can even be used to stop erosion.
It will continue to be a popular alternative to chemical fertilizers as more and more gardeners choose to use compost to help their plants grow and thrive. It is easy and cost-effective to set up your own home composting system. However, if this is not an option, it is possible to purchase compost for use in your garden.
Just make sure that it is of high quality and made from completely organic materials. Otherwise, the best case is that you will have purchased an ineffective product that doesn’t really help your plants, and the worst case is that you have a substance that could actually harm your gardens and plants by adding rubbish to the area.
ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on March 26, 2020.
Composting is a worthwhile endeavor, and the compost is a versatile product that can be used for a range of purposes, while also being an environmentally-friendly choice.