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From Waste to Black Gold: Composting Benefits & Tips for Beginners

Composting refers to the process of recycling organic matter into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich the soil and plants. Farmers often refer to compost as “black gold” because of its rich nutrient composition as well as environmental benefits.

Aarushi Chadha

Compost, fondly referred to as black gold, is an organic fertilizer that is produced from the natural process of recycling organic matter. During the process of composting, organic matter is decomposed by providing an ideal environment for beneficial organisms such as bacteria and fungi. The resultant decomposed organic waste is used as a soil amendment which improves water retention, reduces personal waste, and improves the chemical and physical structure of the soil.

Advantages of Compost

  • Improves water retention- Adding compost to the soil helps improve its water retention. It helps the soil absorb water properly and even makes the soil healthy enough to survive low water or drought-like conditions. Composting also helps protect the groundwater quality as it lessens the agricultural land’s dependency on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

  • Reduces personal waste- Making your own compost helps you reduce personal food waste, thereby, cutting down the methane emissions from landfills. Composting is a valuable tool in combatting climate change as it helps make the soil more resilient to rising temperatures.

  • Improves overall health of the soil- Compost improves the overall health of the soil as it introduces essential nutrients and beneficial organisms to the soil which improves its chemical and physical structure. It also builds the soil’s resilience to the impacts of climate change while reducing its potential for soil erosion. Over time, healthy soil will improve the quality and increase the yield and size of the crops.

  • Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides- Using compost to feed the soil attracts beneficial organisms to the soil and even reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizers.

  • Reduces methane production- Composting helps people lower their carbon footprint as it avoids the production of methane in landfills. Organic matter when added to landfills increases methane production.

What to compost?

Composting is a great way for a household to reduce their carbon footprint by recycling their organic waste rather than throwing it into a landfill. Let us take a look at the organic waste items which are appropriate for composting-

  • Food and vegetable scraps.

  • Grass clippings and yard trim.

  • Paper filters

  • Coffee grounds

  • Unstapled paper or cloth tea bags.

  • Eggshells

  • Healthy pruned leaves, stems, branches, or twigs.

  • Shredded paper

  • Shredded cardboard (no tape, glue, or wax coating)

  • Untreated wood chips

  • Cooked food (but only in small quantities)

Do not include the following organic wastes-

  • Fats, oils, and greases

  • Glossy paper

  • Treated or painted wood

  • Aggressive weeds or weeds with seeds

  • Pruned trimmings of diseased and pest-infested plants

  • Herbicide treated plants

  • Pet waste and cat litter

  • Cheese and dairy products

  • Meat, fish, and bones.

How to make your own compost pile?

To make your own compost pile, you’ll need enough material to make a pile that is at least 3 feet tall. Combine all of your green (kitchen waste) items with brown (garden or paper waste) items in a secluded and shady place that is near a water source. If you think that your compost pile is dry, then mix more water or green waste into it. On the other hand, if it seems very wet, then add more brown waste.

Spray the compost pile with water if you want to produce hot compost. Then stir the compost pile at least once a week with a garden fork to incorporate oxygen into the pile. Whether it is hot or cold compost, stirring it in regular intervals will help it cook faster and stop the pile from developing an odour.

At the end of this process, you’ll be left with a dark-coloured, crumbly, and earthy-smelling product. Start using the end product at the beginning of the active growing season to replenish the soil and feed it with the necessary nutrients. Composting is a wonderful way to utilize your waste and use it to keep your garden and the plants in it happy.

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