Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint. And if the carbon is in the ground, it isn't in our atmosphere, where it can wreak havoc on the planet. According to the EPA, compost is also capable of capturing and eliminating 99.6 percent of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from the air. Remember that most composting experts advise a balance between green waste -- watery materials like fruits and vegetables, grass clippings and weeds -- and brown waste like dried leaves, sticks, fur, cloth, cardboard, and paper. If it's too wet, turn and mix all the ingredients, adding dry organic material like sawdust to absorb some of the extra liquid. And it’s a fun conversation starter. Instead of throwing out your coffee grounds or veggie scraps throughout the week, you just load them into your compost. But there's a long list of things you can't compost — and they mostly apply to animal products. But it can also seem like a daunting task, the sort of thing only seasoned gardeners with enormous yards can do right. Many cities now offer compost collection at farmers markets or designated drop sites. Fall is always a great time to get started with composting, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are looking for safe outdoor activities or safe ways to secure fresh produce. When applied to soil, compost potentially functions as a "carbon sink," trapping and containing the element in the dirt. It may be organic, but it introduces disease to the compost that make it unusable. Learn how it works, why it's beneficial to the environment, and how to make it work for you through our guide below: Compost is simply decayed organic matter — and "organic matter" is a pretty wide-ranging label. Composting speeds the natural process whereby microorganisms break down complex organic matter into simple, nutritious topsoil. And when compost is too old or otherwise "spent," it's not bad per se — it's just lost some nutrients. Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs*, Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)*, Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides. Composting is an aerobic method (meaning that it requires the presence of air) of decomposing organic solid wastes. 2. These vapors and gases can have a harmful impact on your health, with side effects ranging from nausea to throat irritation. A tub is often easier for beginners, but if you're going with a heap, put up a small fence to keep critters out. You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away, and could be composted instead. But if you have no city or community garden support, there's still vermicomposting. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter. First, designate a spot outside for your compost heap. Natural decomposition happens all … But it's a little more complicated than that. It is a mesophilic process utilizing microorganisms and earthworms. Browns - This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs. Compost reduces and in some cases eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material. Learn the ins and outs of this process and empower students to work for healthy causes. A composting toilet looks and feels like a standard toilet that you are familiar with. Cucumber ends, apple cores, carrot peels, cantaloupe rinds, avocado pits, an old pumpkin leftover from Halloween — any vegetable or fruit scrap will do. An unpleasant odor is the sign of too much water or too many green ingredients, or that the compost isn’t done “cooking” yet. Using compost in the garden is a great way to improve soil and your garden’s overall health. But composting also has other benefits. When I use the word compost, it refers to the resulting product of the composting process, which consists of taking plant material and other compostable material, piling it up, and letting it decompose into a black friable material. The process involves decomposition of organic material into a humus-like material, known as compost, which is a good fertilizer for plants. Because compost is used as a fertilizer, it reduces the need for chemical options, which can be harsh on the earth. Composting is a great way to reduce your food waste and contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. Compost doesn't really "go bad," but it can get too dry, too wet, or too old. Compost is organic material that, when added to soil, can help plants grow. Through the practice of composting organic material waste is broken down by microorganisms in the presence of oxygen to a point where it can be safely stored, handled, and applied to the environment. This all adds up to more growth with less water — and, in turn, a more affordable way to create food, flowers, and other plants. It also tends to facilitate bigger crop yields, giving food producers a better harvest. Composting toilets are a whole different ballgame, though they still use the same basic biological process. How do you make sure it doesn't reek? Composting is a way to minimize those methane emissions, but it does a lot more than that. It’s healthy for the earth and your garden. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin. Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. It's also free, easy to make, and good for the environment. Home Composting: Its Time Has Come. Food waste, grass … Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material. Now let's say you live in a fourth-floor walk-up without any green space. Composting is a natural process that turns organic material into a dark rich substance. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Cornell Waste Management Institute's Small Scale Composting, U.S. Department of Agriculture Backyard Composting Tip Sheet. Composting is an essential part of reducing household wastes. When this occurs on the forest floor, it's called mulching, but when people have a hand in the procedure, we call it composting. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. But within that broad definition, there are many ways to practice composting. When you mix a bunch of these items together in a compost pile, they break down naturally into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that helps gardens grow. If it's too dry, add a little water to improve the moisture. Other familiar amendments include lime, added to raise the pH of alkaline soils, and sulfur, added to lower the pH of acidic soils. Add water to keep it moist, and keep an eye out for any worrisome pests or disease. Vermicomposting is a type of composting in which certain species of earthworms are used to enhance the process of organic waste conversion and produce a better end-product. You can also include cut flowers or plant trimmings, as long as they aren't diseased. Green materials tend to be wet, and include your fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and tea leaves. Direct Composting. A mixture of decayed or decaying organic matter used to fertilize soil. Coffee grounds and filters, tea leaves, herbs, spices, and nut and egg shells are all acceptable ingredients. To start, composting toilets are usually waterless, with no connection to a septic tank. Anyone can compost in any location, as long as they understand the basics of this all-natural process. A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad. No meat, fish, butter, yogurt, cheese, milk, or animal fat is allowed. Most feature ventilation systems and sealants designed to mitigate unpleasant bathroom odors. But grains also sprout from soil, which means you can throw stale bread, cereal, and pasta in your compost heap, too. Greens - This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds. Over the course of a year or so, the material will decompose. Fertilizers add nutrients to soil; amendments improve the soil so that plants can make use of those nutrients. What goes into it? Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. 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