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An Anatomy of Composting

Irida Blog

 

40% of food that is produced in our country is wasted.

 

India is battling poverty and inequity; however, the nation is equally responsible for tackling the challenges that come along with food wastage for a developed and sustainable future.

 

A direct and rather easy step to decrease the amount of waste and use it for a better cause is composting. Now, let us look into the definition of composting before we dive deeper into the matter. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. Anything that grows decomposes eventually; composting simply speeds up the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms (such as worms, sow bugs, and nematodes) to do their work. The resulting decomposed matter, which often ends up looking like fertile garden soil, is called compost. Fondly referred to by farmers as ‘black gold,’ compost is rich in nutrients and can be used for gardening, horticulture, and agriculture.”

 

Composting is a genius idea to improve soil quality and pack it with nutrients that can promote plant growth. Soil is the foundation of human life and is essential for our food system in order to survive. Unfortunately, at present soil is lacking all the rich nutrients it once had due to pollution and depletion of natural resources. To bring awareness to the importance of nurturing soil that is filled with nutrients, the United Nations declared the year 2015 to be the International Year of the Soil. 95% of our food comes from soil and it is our duty as global citizens to look after and give back to have a stable food production system so we have live a healthy and hazard-free life in the years to come. In addition to this, soil ensures that the ecosystem runs smoothly, by boosting the Earth’s biodiversity and reducing climate change with the help of the carbon cycle.

 

 

What to compost?

 

Food scraps and leftovers must be composted instead of going into the landfills. Anything that was once a living organism can be composted. Right from fruits, vegetables, fish, grains, seeds, nuts and dryer lint can act as a fertilizer to enhance soil quality. Also materials such as weeds, fallen leaves, grass cuttings and plant remains make for healthy compost. Further, here is a table of things that can be used for excellent compost.

 

Cereal boxes

Wood ashes

Paper bags

Sawdust

Hay or straw

Pizza boxes

Egg shells

Non-plastic tea bags

News print

Coffee grounds

Vacuum dust

Egg cartons

 

How to start composting?

 

The first baby step towards making a small change is to put fruit and vegetable peels, food leftovers and expired food products in a separate bin at home. Below is a step by step guide to get your compost going and up for use.

 

Step 1 – Pick a good bin to compost

 

Select an area in your backyard where you will make your compost. The fastest process is composting in a bin as the heat is retained, speeding up the composting process. You can choose the size of the bin according to your preference. If you want a lot of compost you can pick a large bin and vice versa for a smaller amount of compost.

 

Step 2Track the sun

 

Find a location with a lot of sunlight that receives sufficient amounts of warmth throughout the day. Sunlight aids in providing the compost with heat that can spread the process of composting.

 

Step 3 - Add both green and brown organic matter

 

It is important to know the difference between green and brown organic matter as the compost requires the correct proportion of oxygen, water, nitrogen and carbon. The brown material helps to absorb any excess water, preventing the release of unpleasant odour. Green materials help in adding nitrogen and moisture to the compost that conserves heat. 

 

To help you understand better, here is a list of green and brown matter:

 

Brown

Green

Fallen leaves

Grass clippings

Sawdust

Vegetable and fruit scraps

Straw or hay

Eggshells

Dryer lint

Coffee or tea grounds

Paper

Animal manure (cow, sheep, chicken, rabbit)

 

 

Step 4Alternate between the layers

 

Begin by filling your compost bin with soil from the garden that is aerated well and contains natural decomposers like earthworms. Gradually add green leaves and other green matter into the compost. After adding the green layer, follow it with the brown matter. In this manner, continue alternating between the layers.

 

Step 5Wet the compost from time to time

 

When the compost looks dry it indicates that the brown matter is more than the green matter. Watering the compost will help keep the compost moist and healthy. You can also add more green materials if you think it is necessary.

 

Step 6Rotate the compost once a week

 

Mixing and alternating layers helps combine the compost evenly and maintains moisture and conserves heat.

 

Step 7Make use of the compost

 

Tada! Your compost bin is a success and just what is needed for your garden to thrive. Use a shovel to scoop out the compost and add it to your flower pots and beds.

 

 

What precautions to take while composting?

 

  • Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling waste
  • Wear a mask while attending to your compost during dry weather
  • Do not add meat, bones or dairy products as they attract rodents
  • Make sure that the plant matter is not diseased
  • Do not use pet feces to compost your pile

 

 

 

Benefits of composting –

 

Reduces waste at home: 30% of what we throw away can be composted, thereby reducing the amount of waste drastically. Composting at home reduces the waste being piled up in landfills and instead turns it into nutrient rich fertilizer for our gardens.

 

Significantly cuts methane emission: When waste that is compostable goes to the landfills, it is buried under huge amounts of trash that blocks the supply of regular oxygen needed for decomposers. Therefore this waste undergoes anaerobic decomposition that emits potent greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

 

Improves overall soil health: Research has proven that composting is a great tool for improving the soil’s water retention, quality and resilience. Compost material contains all primary nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, oxygen and potassium to boost soil health. Instead of using bought fertilizers that have harmful chemicals, homemade compost is the best organic alternative.

 

Helps conserve water: Farming requires a fair amount of water which can be time consuming and expensive as the soil is degraded. While composting, water is retained better with the organic matter. Using compost yields higher crops as the soil is healthier.

 

 

 

 

In conclusion, composting is an amazing practice to follow a sustainable approach to help improve the planet. At IRIDA, we have areca leaf plates that are an excellent addition to the composting process. Apart from being an eco-friendly alternative for disposable plastic plates, these areca leaf plates are a natural and renewable resource that can enrich your soil fertility.

 

With the above information, you know it’s not too late to start your own compost now. Also, spending quality time outdoors can better your days as it promotes living a wholesome life.

 

Go grab your gloves, let’s get your hands dirty!

 

IRIDA Naturals would like to acknowledge that not everyone is privileged to have a yard or garden to compost. Well, if you do, we definitely think of this as your opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and indulge in the joys of watching your garden bloom with the compost you prepared.

 

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