By Cathy Nesbitt
Jun 27, 2013
Composting is a wonderful way to reduce your ecological footprint and produce a natural soil amendment for lawns and gardens. It is estimated that the average Canadian household produces one tonne of organic waste per year. If every household started composting, the volume of material being landfilled would be reduced by approximately one third.
Composting is a natural process that transforms organic waste into a soil enhancer called humus. Kitchen scraps, leaves, and yard waste are excellent compostable materials. Composting helps maintain a healthy, sustainable environment.
Composting is a simple process that also helps the environment. Successful composting is as easy as combining layers. Composting requires a carbon:nitrogen mix, moisture and air circulation. Add a layer of brown material (carbon comes from dried leaves, brown grass or even shredded paper), then add a layer of green material (nitrogen comes from fruit/vegetable scraps, plant cuttings). The pile should be aerated or turned once a week to allow air to circulate. Water may be required to ensure that the pile remains moist. If the compost pile dries out, all activity stops. If possible, place composter in a sunny location.
Composting has many benefits:
Reduces the volume of material going to landfill
Recovers a valuable resource. Estimated 1/3 of the total waste stream can be composted!
Produces a natural soil enhancer – increase crop production!
Reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Organics combined with landfill material creates methane gas.
Reduces necessity for chemical additives – fertilizers and pesticides – saves money
Returns nutrients back to the soil
To increase the rate of composting, consider adding worms such as red wigglers to the pile. These wonders of nature not only speed up the process, they aerate the pile, and add valuable nutrients to the finished compost. Red Wigglers eat half their weight daily in organic matter. Therefore, one pound of worms can consume 3-4 pounds of organic matter weekly.
Worm composting or vermicomposting is an excellent alternative for those that do not have the space to do traditional backyard composting. As vermicomposting can be practiced indoors, composting continues throughout the year. Worms turn organic material into nutrient rich castings. Worm castings are recognized as one of nature’s finest organic fertilizers. Castings or worm compost is considered “Black Gold” among avid gardeners. Less dependence on chemical fertilizers will not only save money but will also benefit the environment.
There are three main components to successful worm composting: temperature, air circulation and moisture content. The optimum temperature is between 16-26?C (60-80?F). Worm composting is an aerobic process meaning “with oxygen”, so air holes in the worm bin are essential. Worms are approximately 90% moisture so they require a fairly moist environment. The bedding should be the consistency of a wrung out sponge.
Worm composting is an excellent way to get children interested in the environment. Worms are working pets that can help your children understand worm behaviour by seeing organic matter magically converted into soil. Why not employ these wonderful workers willing to work for food scraps?
For more information on ways to reduce your ecological footprint, visit www.cathyscomposters.com or call 1-888-775-9495.