Home composting: the instructions on how to make compostwith the correct management of organic waste produced in the home and in the small garden.
Wet waste can be treated in order to obtain useful substances through a procedure called "composting". To implement the home composting little daily attention is needed, nothing complicated but you must be aware that an essential requirement for the success of the home compostingit is constancy. Without consistency, you could end up with a stinking, sewage-rich mound: if you have a small garden or are considering compost on the balcony or terrace, it is important to understand that consistency is everything, otherwise you will be forced to throw away the pile due to the bad odors produced.
Home composting, what is it
Thecompostingis a process of recycling ofOrganic wastewhich allows to obtain a natural fertilizer called compost. But how does organic waste turn into fertilizer? Dry and wet waste, of organic nature, represent the growth substrate of bacteria, fungi, molds, earthworms and other organisms, which have the task of "decomposing" the animal and vegetable remains, transforming them into a brown earth that we define as compost. For a chemical analysis on how this transformation is possible, I refer you to my articles:
- Nitrogen cycle, simple explanation
- Composting, how it works
Putting chemical transformations aside, on this page I will explain how to do home composting and manage organic waste in order to avoid bad smells and negative experiences.
Home composting, how to do it
Formake compostyou can take advantage of three different strategies:
- The do-it-yourself heap
It is suitable for those with a large garden, capable of providing at least 500 kg of organic waste. Only with good amounts of organic waste is it possible to increase the temperature necessary in the first phase of waste decomposition. A heap that is too small does not heat up and can cause bad smells.
- The composter
The composter can be DIY or purchased. I recommend buying one domestic composterespecially if you have a small garden or if you wantcompost on the terrace, balcony or in any case in direct proximity to the house.
- The hole
The hole is a very ancient peasant system. A hole is dug and a layer of gravel or expanded clay is prepared on the bottom for drainage; the organic waste will be thrown into the hole and must be well away from the walls of the hole because I remind you that oxygenation is essential.
The domestic composter
TOthis Amazon pageyou can find different types of composters. The domestic composter is useful because it allows good thermal insulation but it is not without limits: oxygenation and mixing become more complicated, you should equip yourself with a garden fork or buy composters that rotate on themselves with a crank (so as to make you mix waste and ventilate).
How to start home composting
Choose a suitable, well-ventilated and very bright place. The ideal would be to organize thecompostingin the shade of a deciduous plant so thecomposter, the hole or the mound, may have sun in winter and shade in summer. Better if you have a water connection nearby because sometimes, in summer, the heap gets wet.
The humidity of the heap of home composting tends to change in response to the climate. The most delicate periods are those in which the seasons change. From the spring-summer transition, for example, rainy days and hot days alternate. It is important to keep the state of humidity of the heap under control during composting.
An easy and immediate test is the so-called "punch test": You take a sample of the mixture in your hand, squeeze it and if a few drops of water arise between your fingers, it means that the compost contains a good level of humidity. If the hand remains dry, you will have to manually add a little water, on the contrary, if too many droplets of water come out, you will have to add dry scraps or hope for a beautiful sunny day!
The process of composting takes place in the presence of oxygen, to avoid bad smells, the compost must be located in a well-ventilated area: the guarantee for a good transformation of kitchen waste into compost is given precisely by a massive presence of oxygen.
Compost material should not be over-compressed and should be turned over periodically. If the composter is large enough the compost can be turned over with a pitchfork. The compost must be turned over to ventilate and restructure the pile, that is, to undo the agglomerates of material that have compacted.
How often to mix organic waste in the composter?
In winter, turning must be done 25-30 days after adding fresh material and repeated after 3-5 months. In summer, the first turning must be done after 15-20 days and must be repeated after 2-4 months. Much depends on the porosity of the heap, if the compost it is very compact the number of turns will have to increase, if instead it is porous, the number of turns can decrease. Mixing the compost not only serves to aerate the heap but also to redistribute water and nutrients and facilitate the process of composting.
How long does it take?
It all depends on the early stages and how you started thecomposting. A few days after adding the organic waste, the thermophilic phase should begin, during which temperatures increase and the mass begins a slow transformation.
After the first month, the thermophilic phase should end and, after about 20 days of cooling, a phase beginsmaturationduring which the temperature will begin to stabilize on environmental values. Ripening requires less oxygen.
At the end of the maturation, to increase the quality of the fertile soil obtained, you can sift it so as to eliminate any undecomposed residues that can be added to the new heap.