Composting 101

If you are trying to make the most of your soil, we’ve got just the thing for you! Have you ever considered the benefits of composting? It recycles food and other organic waste in order to provide your lawn with the best natural fertilizer. Composting entails many benefits and is extremely environmentally friendly. Stay tuned for all the information on how to start right here in Jacksonville, Florida!

What is Composting?

Composting is the process of breaking down and recycling food and other organic waste. This process turns the waste into usable fertilizer for your plants! It is extremely beneficial because composting provides your soil with a multitude of rich nutrients.

Composting essentially speeds up the already natural process of breaking food and waste down. This process creates an environment that welcomes naturally decomposing organisms to properly dispose of waste. This decomposition then creates organic material that can be added to your soil to help plants grow. 

Why is Composting Beneficial?

There are many great reasons to start composting. Its biodegradable nature is good for you,  the environment around you, and your lawn, which is grateful to receive a lush natural fertilizer. One of the most significant benefits to composting is how enriching it is to soil. This organic material works wonders by improving soil health. While synthetic fertilizers rely on unnatural ingredients and chemicals to fertilize your soil, composting creates a material that is abundant in nutrients, ensuring plentiful soil!

There are also many other benefits to composting aside from fertilizing. Composting is a great environmentally friendly option for waste. For example, another benefit of composting is that it helps to decrease harmful emissions. The process of breaking down waste at a facility, such as a landfill, will emit damaging greenhouse gasses. By composting, you are diverting some of your waste that is reusable, and recycling it to better your soil and environment!

Composting also helps to reduce personal waste as well. Waste management systems can be pricey and detrimental to our environment. This is because such a large amount of at home waste is just taken to a landfill to be disposed of. Landfills are not cost effective nor sustainable. Composting provides a favorable alternative. By composting as a means to dispose of both household and food waste, you will eliminate a large portion of what is being taken to landfills. Instead of throwing scraps away, such as banana peels that likely won’t be consumed, you can compost them. This creates an effective way to manage your waste by cutting out the issue from the source.

What is Needed for Composting?

In order to start composting, you must figure out the ideal method for you. There are several different ways to start composting. It can take place both indoors or outdoors and the process can be customizable to your needs. Some factors you should consider when deciding what method to choose should be:

  • How much waste do you produce?
  • Where do you live/what space would you like the location of your composting pile to be?
  • How much time are you looking to spend on composting?
  • Do you produce mostly kitchen waste, garden waste, or both?

Once these factors have been determined, here are a few things to help get you started on your composting journey.

First, if you are planning to start a composting pile outside, it is best to find a shady spot. On the other hand, if you are planning on composting inside, you can purchase specific bins for this process. Outdoor composting can also include the use of bins as well. In general, both indoor and outdoor composting is fairly similar. 

Once you’ve found your composting location, you will mix both ‘browns’ and ‘greens’ into your pile. The ‘greens’ in this mixture will provide your pile with the nitrogen it needs to compost. This includes, but is not limited to, vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. On the other hand, you will also need ‘browns’ in this mixture to provide your pile with carbon. ‘Browns’ include anything from twigs, branches, dead leaves, and even paper. 

To begin creating your composting mixture, insert your ‘browns’ and ‘greens’ into the pile by alternating them. It is also important to add water to the mixture. Moisture is very significant when composting because it allows the decomposers to survive. Once you’ve put together your pile, you can leave it alone for several days to begin the process. 

What Kind of Upkeep is Required?

After you’ve gotten a start on your compost pile, they are fairly easy to maintain. After your initial start to its creation, you should wait between 4-7 days to let the compost set in. After that, you will want to regularly monitor your pile. This includes turning it over every so often and making sure it continues to contain moisture. Depending on your method and location, it will determine how often you turn your compost. A good rule of thumb is to generally turn your compost at least once a week, but this can also be catered to your needs!

Common Mistakes People Make When Composting

There are a few things you should try to avoid when composting. One of the easiest ways to make a mistake when composting is by adding the wrong ingredients to your mixture. For instance, while animal waste can be added safely to industrial composting systems, at home, it can attract animals and insects that can be harmful to your soil if ingested. 

Aside from pet waste, there are several other materials that should not be composted.  Inorganic materials, such as plastic, should never be added to a compost pile. In addition, dairy and some other animal products can also create issues by attracting pests and creating odor from your pile. For example, some of these products to avoid include, fish, bones, meat, eggs, dairy, fat, and grease. 

One last thing to remember is that compost can attract fruit flies to your mixture. While these insects are not harmful to humans, they can be pesky. To combat this issue, you can start by increasing the ‘browns’ added to your mixture. This will help to dry up some of the organic waste that would most likely be attracting the flies. In addition, you can also purchase a fruit fly trap that will help decrease the amount of them as well. 

Now that you’ve learned how easily attainable composting can be in your home, you should give it a try! While it can be a long term process that takes some time for results, composting will do wonders for your soil! Farmers even refer to composting as “black gold” because of how beneficial the mixture is. We highly suggest giving composting a try here in Jacksonville, Florida. It will help benefit you, your soil, and your environment! For general help with your lawncare, reach out to Skinner Lawn Services today at (904) 720-2515.