Composting kitchen and yard waste is beneficial to the environment and it also supplies our gardens with nutrient rich organic matter that is essential to plant health. Starting a compost pile is easy to do and doesn't require a significant investment. By following a few simple guidelines, you can turn your kitchen and yard waste into an important soil supplement.
Environmental Benefits of Composting
Americans throw away over thirty million pounds of kitchen and yard waste a day. This waste ends up in our nations landfills which are quickly filling up and closing. One third of all landfill waste is made up of materials that could be composted.
Amending garden soil with compost creates soil that is rich in plant nutrients, and micro-organisms. This living organic soil will suppress pests as well as diseases which will reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and insecticides that are damaging to the environment.
Compost is formed from the decomposition of organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings, vegetation, and food scraps. This decomposition process is accomplished through the biological activity of millions of bacteria and fungi. Compost can be made in a contained bin or in a freestanding pile. Compost bins come in various styles and will speed up the composting process.
The right balance of ingredients is critical to the composting process. The four basic requirements for composting are air, water, carbon (also known as brown material), and nitrogen (also known as green material).
A rule of thumb is to add two parts brown material to one-part green material. Like most living things the bacteria that are responsible for decomposition need air and water to survive. To create air porosity, you should turn or stir your compost pile frequently. Occasionally sprinkling your compost pile with water will keep it moist. Make sure that your pile has adequate drainage to avoid excess moisture.
By following these simple guidelines, you can help sustain our environment while creating a beneficial soil supplement for your garden.