What even is compost?

Most people have heard of it before, but may not really know or understand exactly what it is. This is simply raw natural materials broken down. When leaves fall in the forest they will begin to decompose and turn to soil. Homemade compost is the same idea. It is derived from yard waste and leftovers from the kitchen. Not every single leftover food item however is beneficial to compost. Your compost should not include meat, oils, fat, grease, diseased plant matter, sawdust from pressure treated wood, pet or human feces, weeds, or any dairy products. Scraps from other fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells, grass clippings, dry leaves, finely chopped wood, cattle droppings, and other raw materials are all great to compost. Worms can help this process along but are not required. Worms will eat and their castings help the food breakdown encouraging decomposition.

Two Type of Compost

Compost is a great way to take household trash and repurpose it. This not only helps gardens grow but keeps our landfills a little less full. There are two types of compost hot and cold. Cold compost is the easy method but takes much longer. This happens by throwing food scraps into a designated spot and over the course of a year or two it turns into compost. Hot compost is a bit more involved but will be produced in a couple of months. It involves extra effort, warm water, stirring, and high attention.

Cold Method

Cold composting is a dummy-proof form of composting. Simply put the ingredients you have into a container or a certain area of your garden and wait until it becomes compost. Add as you go, so when you find you have items to toss in go ahead and do it. There is no amount you should start off with in order to get the compost started, any amount will do. Continue to add materials and mix it all up to help break everything down. In about a year or two the materials should be broken down and can be added to your garden.

Hot Method

Hot compost on the other hand is a little more labor intensive and requires more time. To start a hot compost you will need two part carbon matter and 1 part nitrogen matter.Carbon matter is mainly brown and nitrogen is green, there are always exceptions to the rule so be sure to know what it is before you start collecting. Carbon materials consist of brown items such as fall leaves, wood chips, and shredded paper. Nitrogen items consist of grass clippings, fruit or vegetable waste, animal waste (cattle or any other non house pet animals). You want to make sure you have a variety of sized items, it is important air can flow through the compost. You can also add some finished compost from a previous batch to kick start the whole process with added microorganisms. Water is also very important in making hot compost. The compost should remain moist but not over saturated. The microorganisms can drown if there is too much water and not enough air. The compost will begin to heat up as the materials break down. In roughly 24 hours, the temperature will raise to about 141°F to 155°F. Using a compost thermometer is highly recommended. If the compost gets too hot for too long, it will begin to rot and not turn into soil. If it does begin to get too hot, simply turn the compost with a gardening fork. Make sure to keep the compost wet, warm, and turn or “stir” as need, and in a few months you will have your very own compost to use in your garden.

What are the Benefits

Compost is good for a few different reasons. It is very helpful for plants by providing a variety of nutrients to grow healthier and stronger. It also helps our community by reducing  household waste that goes to dumps.

People are willing to pay a hefty price for organic compost. Larger farms can create their own compost and sell it to local citizens. Cow manure is very high in organic matter and nutrients. Cows generally eat grass so you can think of them sort of like giant worms. They eat grass and turn it into droppings to be used in compost for plants to eat. This is turning literal trash and poop into profits.

Compost can be such a mindless activity that turns great profits in many different ways. Online resources can help give better detailed step by step instructions on how to make the best compost and how to use it.  (http://www.earthtimes.org/going-green/importance-composting-help-eliminate-organic-waste-fertilize-soil/82/)