Composting: How to Save Money and Help the Environment
Creating your own compost is a terrific way to save money and help the environment.
Saving Money and Helping the Environment
Composting provides a host of benefits for both you and our planet including:
- Reduction of household waste which in turn saves you money on waste collection
- Reduction of fuel on transportation of household waste to landfill sites
- Reduction of greenhouse gases from rotting food in landfill sites
- Compost improves soil health by increasing nutrients, which improves plant health and growth
- It also encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi
- And helps soil retain moisture…
The Science Behind Composting
Compost is created over time, when waste high in nitrogen (Green Waste) is combined with waste high in carbon (Brown Waste), in an environment that provides both oxygen and water:
Green Waste + Brown Waste + Oxygen (O2) + Water (H2O) + Time = Compost
N.B. It is best to add equal measures of brown and green waste, and to give your mix a gentle turning on a regular basis to encourage air flow.
If you gather enough waste to create an instant compost heap of around one cubic metre in size, you will provide conditions for hot composting. In these conditions, your compost heap can reach temperatures of 60-70 degrees C.
The waste materials will break down faster, and your compost could be ready in as little as six months.
If you are accumulating waste over time, compost will be created more slowly, and temperatures inside your compost heap will be lower. Thus, your compost will be ready in a year to eighteen months.
Types of Compost Heap
There are several ways to contain a compost heap.
I use a wooden surround recycled from a garden shed:
You could also recycle old wooden pallets, doors…
N.B. Cover your compost heap with old carpet or heavy duty plastic, to maintain warmth, and prevent too much moisture/moisture evaporation.
Ready Made Plastic
You can buy ready made heavy duty plastic compost bins, which provide:
- A sealed environment for composting with a removable lid for adding waste
- A door to extract compost from the bottom of the compost heap.
N.B. Both types of compost heap must sit on exposed soil. They will also do best in shade.
If you have a site that has no bare soil e.g. a balcony or fully paved back yard, you can still make compost using a tumbler. These are readily available online.
Although they can be a little expensive, they will provide compost in a shorter space of time.
Gathering your Ingredients
I gather my Green Waste in a purpose made container with an air filter. It is emptied several times a week directly onto my compost heap.
Brown materials are also added on a regular basis.
Green Waste Brown Waste
Fruit and Vegetable peelings Leaves
Grass Clippings Shredded paper
Coffee Grounds Egg cartons
Tea Bags Toilet roll /Kitchen roll cardboard…
Chopped up plant material e.g end of season annuals
Flowers that once graced your vases…
A Paper Shredder
As an author/blogger, I write a lot of notes!
I also save correspondence that includes my address and other confidential information.
They all go into my paper shredder:
My shredded paper is then added to my compost bin.
Enjoying The Results
At the end of last summer, I was rewarded with four large containers of heavenly plant food for my garden:
There was enough to feed all my roses, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and bulbs…
I smiled as lots of happy plants celebrated their autumn feast!
Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.
She lives in Donegal, Ireland – an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/r5GCjaetgZk
Categories: Gardening Hints and Tips