From the plate to the garden: how to compost at home

About 30% of what we throw away is food scraps and yard waste, as indicated by the Environmental Protection Agency (@EPA). Making homemade compost allows us to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in the landfill or incinerator and close the cycle of organic matter. In addition, we will obtain a high quality fertilizer for our terrace, orchard or garden plants without any type of chemical product. This will result in bigger plants, prettier flowers, and a healthier garden at no additional cost. You just have to start saving your food leftovers and turning them into plant food.

There are many different recipes or ways of composting or preparing homemade compost, but the one we propose to you is one of the simplest. As indicated by the Composting Manual published by the Ministry for Ecological Transformation and the Demographic Challenge, There are three basic steps to prepare a quality homemade compost: prepare the composter, add the organic waste in layers and, finally, hydrate your organic fertilizer well.

By following these guidelines, you will get organic compost quickly (you can compost in just three months) and without odors or pest problems.

Prepare the composter

According to Catalan Waste Agency There are different ways of doing the behavior: in piles, which is the traditional way of doing self-composting and allows you to mix kitchen scraps and vegetable scraps in a pile on the ground. Or in a composter to be located in the garden, in the orchard or on the patio. And although the compost can be made in a simple pile, it is more practical, for reasons of space, to use a composter, the main tool to carry out the process. There are different types of composters, plastic, wood and grate, but all must have a series of requirements, as a ventilation system to allow the entry of oxygen; a top closure system, to avoid flooding by rain, and ease of opening and handling.

Compost at home

Add organic waste in layers

There are many remains that you put in the container: leaves, plant cuttings, grass clippings, fruit remains, breads and cereals, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, eggshells, wood chips and ashes, earth from pots, cut flowers, or used paper napkins. But it is not advisable to add leftover meat or fish, dairy products, fats or oils, cat or dog feces, charcoal ash, or non-organic materials.

All organic materials contain carbon and nitrogen in varying proportions and we are interested in having roughly equal parts of nitrogen-rich and carbon-rich materials. In general, wet or green materials, such as grass clippings, food scraps, and plant cuttings, contain a higher proportion of nitrogen than dry or brown materials, such as wood, paper, and fall leaves.

To create the ideal conditions for composting, try to include roughly equal parts of both and layer or mix the materials in the bin. If we only use brown scraps they will also become compost, but it will take longer. On the other hand, if we add too many vegetables, the compost can generate odors. To avoid odors or pests, bury food scraps under debris such as leaves, twigs, wood chips, or dirt. In any case, to obtain a good compost it is best to use a wide variety of materials. The more crushed they are, the faster we will get the compost.

Hydrates the fertilizer

The microorganisms in compost need oxygen and water to survive. To ensure that air can penetrate to the center of the composter or pile, we can aerate it by turning it over or mixing it periodically. Also, since the compost needs to be moist, but not soggy, you may want to water it periodically during a dry spell or after adding large amounts of dry materials.

Once the organic fertilizer is obtained, we will mix it in flower and plant beds; with the soil from our pots to revitalize indoor plants; or spreading it on the lawn as fertilizer. Above all, if you make compost with plant cuttings or grass clippings that have been sprayed with pesticides, avoid using it for your garden.