Compost is a decomposed organic material and considered as black gold. Organic compounds are carbon based compounds like proteins, lipids and nucleic acids.
Why Compost is important for plants:
There are two ways by which plants take nutrients. One is organic matter and 2nd one is minerals. Organic material is not only used for nutrients but also it provide habitat to some friendly organism in the soil. Organic material is also improving water holding capacity of the soil by binding soil particles into aggregates.
Without organic matter, it is very difficult to grow healthy and productive crops. Organic material requires 2% to 10% in the soil for different plants.
Organic matter is one of the main components of soil. On mother earth, Soil is capable to support plant life due to organic matter, minerals, water, air and some beneficial organism. It is therefore making and providing compost to the plant is very important, for its survival, its health and production.
How to make compost at home:
Material for Compost
Almost all plant material and animal manure can be used for compost making.
Almost 30 percent of material which we throw away is food scrapes and yard waste.
If we use this material for compost then we do not have to keep this material in landfills where it takes up big area and release gases like poisonous methane.
Compost materials can be categories in following way:
Brown Organic Material
Dead Leaves, Twigs and manure, Paper egg carton, paper towels, Paper Napkins, Dried Grass clippings, Shredded news print, Coffee filters, straws, small pieces of cardboard , Dead house plants.
Green Organic Material
Fruit rinds, Lawn clippings , Green leaves, Garden Waste, Flowers, vegetables, fruit peels, scraps, coffee grounds, Tea leaves/bags, egg shells, flowers etc.
Some of the home products should not be used for compost making
1. Meat and dairy products
These are biodegradable but will attract insects and pests to compost pile. In case it is not avoidable put it bottom of the compost pile and buried there.
2. Avoid treated sawdust
Although untreated wood scraps and sawdust can easily be used for composting but as treated sawdust has some chemical in it, it is therefore better to avoid as this compromise the integrity of compost and its future use.
3. Highly Acidic Foods
Citrus fruit – Due to high acidity it can kill friendly beneficial bacteria which break down material to make compost
4. Oils and Greasy Food
Composting process requires certain moisture in the material and oils and greasy material can interfere in it, therefore avoid it as much as possible.
4. Human and Pet waste
Do not use it in compost making as when prepared compost no one like pet waste spread all over your garden . It is health hazard and your neighbour will definitely not like it.
Also avoid following materials : Plastic material. Glass, charcoal or any toxic material.
The composting process:
It involves mainly 04 components:
1. Organic Matter
1. Location of Site
Site location for composting should be dry, Shady place near compost pile or bin. Water source should be available in this place with water hoses with a spray head. There are some tools which you should have like pitchforks and square point shovels or machetes.
2. Choice of compost Bin
You can choose compost bin or open pile for compost making. Compost bin can be purchased or you can make it at home. Size of compost bin should be according to compostable material, your home generates.
3. Alternate of green and brown layers
It is better to put course material in first 2-3 layers so that proper drainage and aeration maintained. After this, put alternate layer of green and brown materials.
5. Keep on adding kitchen materials as it accumulate
You should keep collecting compostable material and empty it in compost pit. Make sure that whenever you put your kitchen materials in to compost bin, you should also put brown materials like dry leaves layer over it so that there should not be more moisture which can slow down the process of compost.
You should keep continue adding layer until your bin is full. Please remember Compost contents will start shrink as decomposition of compost material start.
During the processof making compost, Brown Organic (Dead leaves, twigs manure) supply carbon, and Green organic material supply nitrogen. It is better to mix brown and green matter in the ratio of 1:1. This material should be chopped into small pieces.
If you have piles that have more brown material i.e. dead leaves then put handful quantity of commercial fertiliser 10-10-10. It will increase the speed of compost process.
It is very important that adequate and proper moisture should be maintained during compost making process as if pile is too dry then the process of decomposition of material will be slow down. In the same way if moisture is too high it will impact adversely composting process. In this situation, you should turn the material and add more brown material in it.
In the process of compost making when pile is properly established ,cover top of compost with a tarp. It will keep material moist.
Maintain Compost Bin
If you want compost finished properly, mix with green material as well as brown material in such a way that standard moisture of material maintained. you should keep turning compost at least once a week to help the smooth process and eliminate the odour.
When compost will be ready for use:
Try to check bottom of the pile and if you find that colour of material become dark and rich, then it indicate that compost is ready to use.
You should be very sure that compost is ready otherwise if compost is not properly ready then this is not beneficial to plants as microbes present in the compost will start using nitrogen and plants will not be able to get it. Compost preparation can take about 2 months to 6 months.
Benefit of compost
1. Compost provides nutrients to soil.
2. You can use compost for your home gardening.
3. Compost gives big help to retain moisture in the soil by increasing water holding capacity of soil.
4. Compost suppresses plant diseases and insect and pest.
5. Requirement of chemical fertilisers reduces considerably.
6. After mixing compost with plant soil, it encourages friendly beneficial bacteria and fungi in the soil. These bacteria and fungi break down organic material to create humus. Humus is a rich nutrient filled material.
7. It will reduce the methane emissions from landfills and thereby lower carbon foot prints.
8. If you want to start is as business you can make money , marketing it.