3 Composting Methods You Should Know About
Composting is the way you turn your garbage and waste into useful products called compost that is used to nourish plants in farming. By that way, you have not only an eco-friendly product for a bumper crop but also somewhat prevent the environment from being polluted. There has been available a variety of methods of composting since a long time ago. However, as to describe the term of a method by the time of processing, there are three common methods as below.
Hot or Fast Composting
This is the quickest way to turn your organic matter into compost which you can you as soil amendment or nutrient-rich products to nourish your plants. The term hot is implied the temperature of the pile’s core during processing, which can reach 160°F at its peak. The pros of this method is the short time of processing, and ability to get rid of weed seeds and pathogens due to the high heat but the cons is it takes you more effort.
Material and portion – The materials used for making hot composting comes in a variety of types such as dead leaves, dry plants, grass clippings and kitchen scraps but the material high in carbon must be higher those high in nitrogen, which determines the heat of the pile. Plus, the ratio recommended for a successful result is 2:1 (C:N ratio), which means 2 part of high-carbon materials and 1 part of high-nitrogen materials.
Way of doing – All the materials are gathered and piled up, which means they are placed layer by layer of materials. Bear in mind brown materials (carbon materials) should be placed on the bottom, which helps the pile to be ventilated better. Next, let it follow by a soil layer. Then, cover with a layer of green materials, and cover again with a soil layer. Repeat the steps until it gets about 3-feet pile. Plus, give the pile moisture by adding water and place a hollow pile in the core to bring air inside the pile.
Requirements – Although the time for a finished compost is quite short but this method requires more techniques. During the processing, the pile needs to be periodically turned over in order to the temperature and moisture are adjusted properly, which means it takes you more effort.
Temperature – Keeping the temperature inside the pile properly in hot composting is very important. The pile is heated up within 24 – 36 hours, along with the rising of heat inside, the organic matter starts to break down, 141°F to 155°F are considered as the ideal temperatures. When it reaches its peak, the temperature can get 160°F. Also, the heat inside the pile needs to stay active all the time. However, the pile needs to be adjusted immediately if the temperature over 160°F, which means water should be added to the pile.
Time of processing – Generally, it never takes you nearly one year waiting for organic material completely decomposed when using the method of hot composting. From 2 weeks to several months, your hot-compost pile is already to use.
Cold or Slow Composting
Cold composting or slow composting is another way you let your organic materials like kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and dead leaves naturally decomposed by itself by gathering them in a pile in your backyard. Also, as the name mentioned, it takes a long time to get the pile finished the composting process, often at least one year. However, it takes minimal effort but this method is widely used for the large size of pile.
Materials – Like hot composting, the materials used for cold composting aren’t limited, and therefore, everything you’ve thrown in your composter can be recycled to become new products used for gardening. For example, kitchen scraps are banana peels, avocado pits, coffee ground and eggshells. Others are brown ingredients found in your garden like dead leaves, dry branches, and dry lawn. Also, water, soil, and air are other important materials to ensure the organic matters can break down to become nutrient-rich compost.
Ways of doing – Gathering all the brown materials like dead leaves, dry straw or hay, branches and green materials like lawn clippings, kitchen scraps together and making them pile up, of course, it is better to make your pile by adding layer by layer, and each layer of brown or green materials followed by each soil layer. Plus, burying your kitchen scraps in the bottom seems to be an ideal way to kill insects.
Requirements – To minimize the water being logged, which causes odors in cold composting, you need to protect your pile by covering the top with a waterproof material when raining. In addition, pile up your materials on the site that has good drainage. Plus, it is ideal to sort your ingredients before tossing into your pile, which means you aren’t advisable to add ingredients that might cause soggy resulting in odors, but this step is just optional.
Temperature – Unlike hot composting, the temperature inside the pile is quite low, often not over 90 degrees, therefore, the processing happens slowly.
Time of processing – Usually, the processing of a cold compost pile might take you at least one year to completely decompose all the materials.
Worm-based composting is also known as vermicomposting, which uses the help of various worms like red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms to eat your ingredients instead of letting them naturally decomposed by themselves, but at the end of processing, you have a new product use to nourish your plant or mend your soil. Plus, the worms in the pile can be used as food for your poultry.
Materials – The materials for worm-based composting are the combination of brown materials like dead leaves, branches, straw and green materials like lawn clippings, leftover foods, and animal by-products. Also, the necessary ingredients are worms such as earthworms, white worms and red wigglers.
Ways of doing – Worm-based composting can be done in a bin or container with small size of materials, which means plastic or wood containers are alright. And then add all the materials into the containers, or you can fill the container by adding each layer of waste followed by a layer of worms. However, a number of brown materials should be higher than green materials, which helps to reduce the temperature inside can be heated up cause to harm the worms.
Requirements - To let the pile ventilated, it is encouraged to use the container that has small holes which help the exceed water drain, or you can line the bottom of the container with a mesh. Plus, meat and dairy products shouldn’t be added into the containers because they can be decomposed. In addition, night crawlers aren’t ideal worms to use for this method.
Temperature – The method of composting by using worms need to be properly regulated the heat inside the container, which means you need to give it checked regularly because the very high temperature inside the container might lead to worms killed. Usually, 15–25°C (59-77°F) are ideal temperatures for worm to eat their food rapidly, over 30°C can make worms killed.
Time of processing – The advantage of worm-based composting is it can be completed for a short time. Usually, it takes 1 – 3 months for a vermicomposting process ready to use.