Composting 101: What is Compost?

What is Compost?

The reality is, that for many of us that have grown up gardening or on a small farm, composting has always been part of our lives.  For others, it may be a newer idea.

Composting is simply the breakdown of decomposed organic material.

The sad reality is about a third of the space in landfills is taken up with organic waste from our yards and kitchens, just the type of material that can be used in compost.  With a small investment in time, you can contribute to a solution of waste that plagues us, while at the same time enriching the soil and improving the health of the plants and garden.

Composting is actually a very simple, natural process that happens daily in nature.  We see the cycles around us in the woods each and every year.  At the end of the seasons, plants die and leaves fall to the ground.  Then there is also the many live plants that are consumed by animals, insects, birds and even the worms.  Through the digestive process, they then add their waste back into the cycle.  There is also the naturally occurring breakdown of the undigested waste with the aid of microorganisms that is added to the mix. The result of this natural cycle is compost that helps to create a very rich, healthy soil.

Composting at home is basically the same process but is intentional and managed.  It can be done in many ways, which I will discuss in the coming weeks.  Anyone can create compost even in limited space.

The fact is, if you have organic waste (which I create plenty of daily) you can’t stop the decomposing process.  The key to composting is to control it.  While composting is a wonderful way to help your garden, having even small heaps of organic material lying around can  cause the attraction of bugs and become very smelly.  Again with managing it properly, this shouldn’t be an issue and in the end you will be able to create a nutrient rich compost that your soil and plants will greatly benefit from!

Comments

  1. Celeste McFall says

    A life-long gardener (seriously, my mother took me into the garden at a very young age), composting to me has always been like baking a cake (except you can’t taste the batter). The real beauty of composting is that it gives in so many ways: eliminates waste, promotes a healthy garden and provides that outdoor relief and exercise in the middle of winter when we have that one day or even a few hours of nice weather. The compost pile gets you out into the garden, in the sunshine, and excites your dreams and plans for next year’s garden. I’d like to institute a National Day of composting in early spring to remind everyone to get out in the garden and get composting!

  2. Laura B says

    My family has never composted or grown any of our own food. However, I really wanted to plant our own garden next spring and have started researching it now. I also want to start composting. I look forward to reading the rest of your composting posts and learn more about it!

  3. Kathy says

    5 things you need to compost:
    CARBON (dead grass, leaves etc.(dry organic material)).
    NITROGEN (fresh cut grass or vegetable material.) You will need 2 – 3 X more Carbon than nitrogen.
    WATER each layer thoroughly. (I installed a air vent in the center of my heat with a sprinkler head coming out the middle so I could add water easily when needed.
    OXYGEN, you will need to turn your compost daily to circulate the air. I found a pitch fork was the best method for me.
    TIME…..now wait. Nature will take it’s course.

    You can also do it the passive way which will take a lot longer to compost and that is to just pile stuff up (bury new stuff). No turning or watering necessary.

  4. Memingwanz says

    Good beginning; it all starts with education. Hope the next issue comes soon! I’ve been composting in many ways for 45 years now. Thank you for sharing this info.

    • Amanda says

      To be honest, this is such a simple explanation. For those that have grown up around compost, it is basic for us. There are so many in my generation late 20s and 30s that don’t have any knowledge of it so I am hoping to give some basic explanations into composting and how to get started. Thanks for stopping by and I will be talking about compost the next several Fridays.

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