Composting, Demystified!

‘The ground’s generosity takes in our compost, and grows beauty! Try to be more like the ground.’

-Rumi, Persian Poet

What is Compost?

Compost is a decayed organic material used as a nutrient rich fertilizer to enhance the growth of plants. Compost is a dark colored material with an earthy aroma, iscreated through a biological process, composting, which breaks down thebio-degradable matter of plant and animal origin naturally by micro-organisms, insects and worms.

Basics of Composting

Composting is one of the simplest ways to contribute positively to the environment through the management of solid organic waste generated at home. The key ingredients for composting are the browns, greens and the water. Browns comprises of the dead leaves, branches and twigs. The greens constitute the vegetable waste, garden waste, fruit peels, coffee grounds, tea bags etc. Right amount of moisture content is required for the development of the compost. Greens provide adequate Nitrogen and the browns provide carbon and hence the compost would aa product with enhanced nutrient value with adequate moisture.

How can you compost in your backyard?

As a first step, segregate your waste from home as wet and dry. The green waste and the brown waste can be piled or layered in 1:2 ratios, watered and tilled. The kitchen and the garden scrap can also be directly buried into the soil between rows of vegetables and within beds for composting purposes.

The compost bin can be built on a well-drained soil. The key steps are layering, watering, turning and repeating. Start with the brown waste 6-inch and then with the green waste to about 2-3 inches. Water is sprinkled and the moisture content of the compost pit has to be maintained similar to the feel of a damp sponge.

Repeat the layering process. The frequent turning of the pile helps in the breakdown of the waste and makes the decay faster. The compost is ready when it resembles like soil giving a fresh earthy aroma and a loamy consistency. Usually it takes about 2 months to one year to obtain finished compost depending upon the kind of waste which goes into the bin, frequency of turning and the moisture content. At the end of two months, behold, your “brown gold” is ready to enrich your garden!