TURN CRAP INTO GOLD. How to improve your composting habits

As millions of people across the world are having to self-isolate to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a sudden surge in free time is leaving many people thinking of things to do during the lockdown, as farmers, there is a lot that can be achieved during this period.  

Farmers understand the importance of fertilization in farming, and one of the most environmentally friendly manure is compost.

During this “stay at home” period, one can develop the habit of making compost from household crap. Compost making can be easily done by getting crap from one's own garbage.

How to turn your crap to gold?

Things to consider before starting your compost

  • Convenient source of garbage

  • Have good drainage. You don't want your compost pile to be soaked, so it should have a little drainage, drainage is vital.

  • Direct sunlight could dry your compost pile out, but generally speaking this can easily be overcome and the heat from the sun will help to keep your compost warm and working.

  • Remember that your pile will attract small bugs and ants, so keep that in mind when choosing your production location.

A regular compost pile may take two to four years to produce finished compost while a hot pile may need only two to four weeks, so the best method to use is the hot pile.

The trick to hot composting is simply to work with the microbes that do most of the actual work in breaking down organic matter into compost. They, like all living beings, need three things for healthy life: food, water and air.

Food is the easiest of the three to supply. The microbes feed on decaying organic matter, in fact their metabolic processes cause the decay. Preferably the organic matter will be in the proper ratio of carbon and nitrogen for the composting microbes to feed most effectively. A good rule of thumb is to consider dry or brown organic material such as dried leaves or old hay to be carbon material and for wet or green material like freshly pulled weeds or cut grass to be nitrogenous material. If the two are mixed fairly evenly by volume, it tends to give a good ratio for the organisms to eat and be healthy. Like an athlete, the better the meal, the better the performance.

Water is as near as the nearest tap for most of us, the well pond, or spring for the rest. As the pile is built and each time it is turned be sure that there is sufficient moisture but not too much. Too little and the organisms die from thirst, too much and they suffocate from lack of air. If they were swimmers we would call it drowning. Here a good rule of thumb is to grasp the compost occasionally as the pile is built or turned and see if it is as damp as a wrung out dish rag. If too dry, water the pile and if too wet add dry material.

Air is the hard one to get into the pile. While some ingenious compost workers have devised ways of piping air into the center of the pile or using various means to aerate the pile without turning, it still remains the best way to get air to all parts of the pile. Use a fork to turn the pile every three or four days and it will allow air to touch all parts of the compost. A well-built and turned pile will heat after every turning as high as 160° F. This will aid the composting process and will pasteurize many of the weed seeds in the pile.

After four to five weeks, you need to check if your compost is ready. Humus looks like very dark soil and smells earthy. Now you are ready to use it in your garden to nourish your plants. With so many different options, you are sure to find the right one for you and your lifestyle and remember that at the end, you not only help to reduce landfill, but you also produce humus, often referred to as garden gold