Composting has increased in popularity over the past few years, as evidenced by products like countertop composting bins and stylish yard composters. It isn’t just a pastime for the seasoned gardener or farmer. Many people choose to compost as a way to not only keep their yard or garden healthy but also to reduce the amount of waste they throw out in the garbage each week.
To understand composting, one must first understand what compost is. Compost itself is simply decomposed organic matter. It can often be confused with fertilizer, but there is an important distinction between the two. Fertilizer, while it goes into the soil, is intended to specifically feed plants. Compost, meanwhile, is intended to enrich the soil itself — maintaining moisture more effectively and giving plants a better environment in which to grow and thrive.
Composting happens when organic matter such as coffee grounds, vegetable peels, apple cores, eggshells, stale bread, and even paper plates, decompose until they turn into a soil-like state.
Types of composting
According to the EPA, there are five types of composting:
- On-site composting
- Aerated (turned) windrow composting
- Aerated static pile composting
- In-vessel composting
Which type of composting is right for you depends on many factors, including your local climate, the size of the dwelling or property where the composting will be done, what the compost will be used for and how much compost is needed.
Ask yourself these questions as you prepare to begin composting: What kind of space do I need and where can I put a compost bin in my yard? (Be sure to be thoughtful of your neighbors.) How am I going to use the compost? What kind of process will help me and my family remember to compost our food waste? (Consider a countertop container or checklist in the kitchen.) Are there any guidelines or restrictions for composting in my area?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to create a solid plan for composting in your own home.