Composting 101


Even if we go out of our way to avoid plastics and other non-biodegradable materials, we all still produce some waste. Usually, this waste goes to landfills that produce methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. But there’s another way. Oasa co-living fosters composting to recycle waste and lower the community’s carbon footprint. The compost can also nourish the community garden and decrease the amount of chemical fertilizers needed to keep the plant-life flourishing.

So what is composting? At its most basic, it is the process of decomposing organic materials, such as plant or animal matter, which creates humus. Humus is the organic component of soil vital to the fertilization process, helping your plants to grow. Although humus is formed to a certain extent without human intervention, we can increase the fertility of soil by creating more humus. This creates a particularly nutrient-rich compost, or soil conditioner. 

The basic components of compost are:

  1. Browns (carbon-rich matter): dead leaves and other fallen plant material
  2. Greens (nitrogen-rich matter):  fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen, grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea bags, even hair! 
  3. Water

Although there are ways to speed up the composting process, the simplest form of composting means compiling these three categories of materials in a dry, shady outside area with access to water. If you have space on your land for it, you do not need containers or even fencing equipment. You can simply create a pile of waste and let it decompose. The process can take anywhere from two months to a year depending on the temperature of the climate and the method used. The method of your choice can prioritize aesthetic concerns, speed, convenience, or some combination of these and other needs.

The most popular outdoor composting methods are:

  1. Open-air. This is the most basic method. Compile brown and green materials as you collect them, aiming for equal parts of each. Be sure to cut up bigger scraps and add water to any dry components. The bigger your pile, the faster this process will be because bigger piles will create more heat and hasten decomposition. 
  2. Direct. This method involves digging a hole directly in your garden and burying your waste here. The limitation of this method is that it limits what items you can include, as certain things can attract unwanted critters that might upset your garden. However, this method utilizes natural worms, which speed up decomposition.
  3. Worm Farm. You can use worms even more effectively by buying the species most optimal for composting. All you have to do is create a temperate climate to encourage your worms to stay. 
  4. Tumbler. The tumbler method uses a container in which you physically turn your compost pile in order to speed up the process of decomposition. This method can reduce odors and fend off unwelcome animals, but it does mean more labor.

Whichever method of composting you use, you will be able to work together as a community to create a more sustainable way of life.


Composting at Home



April 23, 2020