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The beginner’s guide to composting at home

by Millicent Hofung |

Composting is a natural recycling process that the earth has been doing since the beginning of time – decomposing organic materials that turn into restoring nutrients for the soil. It’s a practice that not only helps reduce the waste produced in our everyday lives but also improves the health and extends the longevity of our planet. Wondering how to start composting? Here’s our compost 1-0-1 guide to help get started on your composting journey.

 

What is composting?
Composting is a process that turns kitchen scraps into rich nutrient-filled material that can be used as a garden fertilizer. “Humus” (not “hummus” which is the delicious Middle Eastern dish made from chickpeas!) is the result of finished compost – a rich, organic material that when added to soil helps it to retain its nutrients and moisture, promoting plant growth and better environmental health.

 

Why compost?

  • Enrich the soil: Compost helps to retain moisture and decrease plants’ susceptibility to diseases and pests.
  • Introduce beneficial organisms: Compost aerates the soil which helps to break down the added organic materials.
  • Encourage the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi: to help promote plant growth.
  • Recycle kitchen and yard waste: Food scraps and yard waste contributes to over 30% of what is thrown away. Using a compost recycles waste to create new beneficial soil.
  • Lower carbon footprint: Divert materials from landfill where they would have contributed to the release of methane (a potent greenhouse gas).
  • Natural alternative to synthetic and chemical fertilizers: better for the environment, vegetables, fruit or herbs grown and our bodies that eat these!

 

The 5 basic elements of composting:

  • Greens: AKA nitrogen and are rich in protein. They add heat to the compost pile which helps microorganisms grow quickly (as part of the decomposition process).
  • Browns: AKA carbon and are rich in carbohydrates. They are a food source for the organisms in your compost pile, and work with microbes to break down organic material and allow air to filter throughout the pile.
  • Water: Allows the organisms to move throughout the compost pile and digest organic material.
  • Oxygen: Lets the organisms “breathe” which is necessary for survival. It also helps to keep your compost pile odor-free.
  • Microorganisms: This includes the bacteria, mold and fungi that, along with the right amount of water and oxygen, break down the carbon and nitrogen material.

 

The secret to a healthy compost is the carbon/nitrogen ratio, you’re going to want carbon than nitrogen.

 

What to compost and what not to compost

COMPOST 

Greens “nitrogen”

  • Fruits and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Eggshells
  • Fresh leaves (green) and grass trimmings
  • Hair and fur

Browns “carbon”

  • Dry, dead leaves (brown)
  • Pine needles and cones
  • Natural fibres (cotton or wool rags)
  • Shredded paper, newspaper and cardboard (without any glossy or waxy coating)
  • Dryer lint
  • KENT briefs! (100% plant-based from cotton, thread to elastic)

 

DON'T COMPOST 

  • Dairy products (create an odor problem that can attract pests)
  • Fats, oils and grease (can also create odor problems and attract pests)
  • Meats, bones or fish scraps (attract pests)
  • Pesticide-heavy residue product (banana peels, peach peels, orange rinds)
  • Black walnut leaves
  • Diseased plants, weed seeds and insect-ridden plants (may spread)
  • Coal or charcoal ash
  • Pet wastes (may contain parasites, bacteria, germs, viruses and pathogens that can be harmful to humans)
  • Yard trimmings that have been treated w/ chemical pesticides (may kill off beneficial composting organisms)

 

3 Types of Composting

  • Aerobic: Expose the compost pile to oxygen to naturally increase the temperature. This helps the materials to break down. This is the most common type for at-home composting.
  • Anaerobic: Let nature do its thing with minimal effort on your end. Pile the greens and browns together – but it’s a pretty slow decomposition process.
  • Vermicomposting: Involves worms in the decomposition process. Instead of letting the organic material naturally break down, the worms will consume it and produce a richer-finished material.

 

What you’ll need to get started:

  1. Kitchen countertop composter - we love this biodegradable and sustainable composter from Bamboozle.
  2. Backyard composter - we use this durable, tumbling composter from Gardeners Supply Co. Turn it 10 times after each ‘deposit’ to optimize your compost inside.

Both of these have been tested and loved by our founder <3

 

Don’t have room to compost at home? Find a compost facility near you at www.findacomposter.com.

 

Want more composting content? We recommend reading…

  • We love this composting guide from LA Compost and they have many useful resources to get your acquainted with starting your own compost.
  • Earth Easy’s composting guide covers all the basics, tips and helps you figure out which composting method is best suited with your living situation.
  • Joe Gardener’s blog focuses on gardening but we’ve got our eyes on his complete guide to Home Composting.

 

Like tree’s shed bark, soil is the earth’s skin and through composting, we can rejuvenate the earth’s complexion – our compost partner, LA Compost, told us. At KENT, we’re big fans of composting. We encourage you to plant your pants with our 100% organic pima cotton briefs – they only take 3 months to fully break down and result in a 100% nutritious fertilizer for the earth’s soil.

 

Have any favorite composting tips? Share with us at hello@wearkent.com.