This post is sparked due to a friend's questions about composing, assuming it to be some complicated and expensive science. My method, for better or worse, is more or less free and simply involves mixing a ratio of about 45% kitchen (green) waste, 45% leaves (brown) waste, and 10% soil (by mass, not volume). Then add water (or snow) occassionally to keep moist but not soaking wet. Occasionally mix with shovel to aerate. It is usually ready to spread on garden in one year. This can be sped up by adding fertilizer, but I wouldn't bother unless you are using a free "natural fertilizer" (i.e. diluted urine).
The composting container is convenient for reducing the area of yard needed and soil to haul around, but is not necessary. I also compost surplus leaves in mounds (about 50/50 soil and leaves). This takes a lot more soil especially if I am depositing kitchen wastes as I like to cover it each time when dumped to reduce odours and flies. Also, the soil spreads out at about a 3:1 slope, creating compost sprawl. So I jumped on the opportunity to buy a City of Calgary composter last year for $25 (available at the ECOSTORE). I figure this can be justified due to the money I'll be saving us taxpayers over the long term for not having to haul and landfill my kitchen and yard "waste" for the rest of my life. Which is not a waste at all, of course, but a valuable resource and the easiest way to improve your garden and minimize garden maintenance. The composting work now will pay off with less work later on!
The benefits of composting are many! Some benefits include:
- Free fertilizer and soil enhancer
- Dramatically improves heavy clay soil over time (give it a few years)
- Reduces soil pH - humic acid helps break down clay and reduce alkilinity which is good for veggies)*
- Reduced burden on City waste disposal infrastructure
- Office dweller can get his hands dirty and be outside for a change
- Bigger and healthier vegetables
- Less watering - compost helps optimize (retain and drain) soil moisture
- Less weeding - veggies outcompete due to healthy growth
I'll call this Part 1 as I'm sure I will add more posts on this interesting topic. Please feel free to share tips from your gardening experience and preferences.