August 21, 2023

Composting 101: A “How to” Guide

Lauren Richardson, Sustainability Manager at Green Badger

In a world where sustainability is more crucial than ever, simple yet impactful actions can make all the difference. Enter composting – a powerful practice that not only reduces waste but also enriches our gardens, minimizes our carbon footprint, and nurtures our well-being.

Imagine diverting 50 million tons of food waste from landfills annually while reducing harmful emissions and curbing atmospheric methane levels. This blog delves into the multifaceted marvel that is composting, from the basics of turning food scraps into “black gold” to troubleshooting and knowing when your compost is ready to nourish your garden. Whether you’re an apartment dweller or have ample outdoor space, you can compost!

Why Should I Compost?

composting blog image of garden in raised bed

Sustainability and wellness, that’s why. By embracing composting, you shrink your carbon footprint and help battle against atmospheric methane emissions. This practice nurtures your plants, promotes healthier food choices, and can even foster community engagement.

  • Carbon Footprint Reduction: Contribute to a greener planet by diminishing your carbon footprint.
  • Methane Emission Control: Combat the release of potent greenhouse gas methane.
  • Plant Enrichment, Waste Reduction: Enhance your garden’s health while minimizing organic waste.
  • Wellness Incentive: Promote healthier eating habits by engaging in composting and gardening which encourages the creation of fresh produce and home cooking.
  • Community Connection: Even without a garden, you can donate compost to local organizations.

The 3 Golden Rules of Composting

The key to composting involves maintaining the right balance of greens and browns, achieving consistent moisture, and ensuring adequate air circulation. By doing so, you provide the foundation for effective decomposition, fostering nutrient-rich compost for your garden’s growth. By following these simple tips you can create material that will enrich the health of your plants.

  • Balanced Materials: Strike the perfect ratio of greens (nitrogen-rich elements) and browns (carbon-rich components). Aim for a rough ratio of 1 part green to 2 parts brown.
  • Consistent Moisture: Maintain a compost mix that feels like a damp sponge. Ensuring the right moisture levels facilitate decomposition and microbial activity, resulting in nutrient-rich compost.
  • Adequate Air Circulation: Regularly turn your compost pile to infuse it with oxygen. This promotes decomposition and prevents unpleasant odors, creating an environment where beneficial microorganisms thrive.

Getting Started

  • Find a space on your counter or outside.
  • Purchase a model that works for you.  Open boxes are not recommended because they can attract wildlife.
  • Follow the rules above for the right mix.
  • You might choose a compost booster to speed up the process. This product is available for purchase and there are DIY recipes online.

Our Composting Experiences

Each person on the Green Badger team has their own preferred type of composter. By sharing our experiences we hope to inspire others to do the same. The two different types of composters that we used are outlined below.

The Lomi Composter is a countertop model and in just 4 hours, it can transform almost anything you eat into nutrient rich plant food! This model holds around one cubic foot of organic matter. Items such as banana peels, apple cores, and compostable plastics need to be broken down into smaller pieces in order to be processed completely. Our team members are currently donating all of their compost to community gardens or using it in their own potted plants.

The other composter used by our team member is the VIVOSUN Outdoor Tumbling Composter. It’s a two bin, 43 gallon model that allows you to let one side cure when it is full and start adding new raw materials to the other side.

If your compost isn’t curing correctly, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Mix is too wet – add dry browns.
  • Mix is too dry – add water
  • Mix ratio is off – check green/brown ratio and add accordingly
  • Ammonia smell could mean too much nitrogen (greens) – add dry browns
  • Putrid smell means the mix is too wet and doesn’t have enough oxygen – add dry brows and turn composter

Gearing Up for Garden Success

When creating your own plant mix, combine equal parts of compost, vermiculite, and earthworm castings for an enriching concoction. Periodic doses of earthworm tea can provide an extra boost.

An ideal compost batch will be dark brown, slightly damp, and have a pleasant earthy aroma. It will contain both a mix of fine and coarse materials. This nutrient-rich goodness can be used as a top dressing for plants or tilled directly into your garden.

Anyone Can Compost

With around a third of the world’s food going to waste, much of it ends up in landfills—where it becomes a source of methane. Composting is accessible to everyone. It reduces waste, improves gardens, lowers our carbon footprint, and supports well-being through organic gardening.

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