Composting 101: Transform Waste into a Garden Treasure Trove

By Alfons C., Vego Garden

Composting is not just a way to reduce waste; it is also a gardening technique that can elevate your plants and soil health.

It is a natural process that improves soil conditions, protects your garden against pests and diseases, all while contributing to sustainability. With the extent of its benefits, it’s definitely something every gardener should take advantage of.

However, not all gardeners are aware of the options they have when it comes to composting. You don’t necessarily need an open space for waste or to build a compost pile. Read on for some alternative techniques suited to the needs of different gardens.  

Compost heaps

Composting Kitchen Caddy | Vego Garden

By far the most popular and well-known method of composting, compost heaps are broken-down piles of waste materials in a decomposing state. Compost heaps can be placed in an open space, or in a solid structure that encourages decomposition.

Both kitchen scraps and garden waste can be used in compost heaps, amounting to larger quantities of compost produced. The general rule when making your compost heap is to have an equal mix of greens from plants that are nitrogen material, and carbon material or browns - like shredded leaves, wood chips or straw. This balance of nitrogen and carbon is essential for good quality compost.

The power of microorganisms

Creating the right environment for microorganisms to thrive will help accelerate the composting process. You can do this by adding a compost booster or activator to your compost heap, with beneficial bacteria to speed up the decomposition process. Also consider adding earthworms to your compost pile or using an in-ground composter, as they also help break down organic matter. 

Monitor your progress 

Composting is an ongoing endeavor and you'll need to monitor your compost pile regularly for best results. Having the right moisture level is key for a good compost, and aim to keep your pile slightly damp. If it's too wet, add some dry waste to offset the moisture.

Apart from moisture levels, you should also keep an eye on the temperature of your compost - with the ideal temperature falling between 120-160°F for active decomposition to take place.

Trench composting 

Besides compost piles, trench composting is another low-maintenance method that gardeners can use to improve their soil quickly. Simply dig a 12-inch hole in your garden soil, and fill it with four to six inches of compostable waste. This can be anything from the kitchen or garden like weeds, leaves, food scraps or vegetable peels. Bury them in the hole and cover up with soil to let decomposition kick in. 

Your trench compost soil should not be planted on for at least three months as decomposition will continue into winter. Unlike other composting methods, the trench composting process actually helps retain nitrogen that benefits the breakdown of waste material in the soil. 

Leaf mold 

The leaf mold method is one of the easiest ways to compost and improve soil structure. This method makes use of decayed leaf matter from trees, and boosts garden soil by allowing leaves to break down into compost. 

Leaf mold can be used as seed starting compost, mulch, or directly in the soil to create an ideal environment for organisms like earthworms or bacteria to thrive. Fall is the perfect season to collect leaves for leaf mold, when it is relatively dry. Place your collected leaves into a bag with some holes for air, and add a bit of water for moisture. Leave them aside in a dry and shaded place for breakdown to occur, and use it as mulch or compost depending your preference. 

Compost tea

Compost Tea Composting for gardeners | Vego Garden

Compost tea is not actually tea, but a liquid fertilizer made by putting compost in water. Simply place a handful of compost in cloth or a bag, and immerse it in water for several days. The resulting liquid will be an excellent fertilizer and nutrient source for your garden soil, and you can use it to water your plants, too. 

By employing these alternative composting techniques, you'll reduce waste and boost the overall health of your garden with minimal effort. So roll up your sleeves and start composting today! Your plants will thank you for it.

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