Composting is a great way to dispose of yard waste in a sustainable and eco-friendly way
What is composting?
The term compost refers to any kind of organic matter that has been recycled into a fertilizer and soil amendment though a natural decomposing process. Composting is a natural process but there are steps you can take to help it along. Naturally over time, the ground gets covered with a layer of organic materials, which includes leaves, branches, manure and animal remains. During the rains, this layer becomes wet, which hastens the decomposition. Over weeks, months, and sometimes even years, depending on the natural climate and environmental conditions, this is turned into humus and it is this layer of nutrient rich earth that is known as top soil.
Science has come up with several ways of speeding up the composting process to produce richer fertilizer using less conventional base materials and within a shorter span of time. Modern yard waste composting can be a complex, multi-step process that involves the addition of carefully measured amounts of air, water, carbon, nitrogen-rich materials, and beneficial organisms like aerobic bacteria and fungi.
How to make compost out of yard waste
Making compost is a simple process, as long as you have the time and space to devote to it. You’ll want to set aside a portion of your yard or property (here in Dublin where space is at a premium that isn’t always easy but that is why we take all suitable organic debris to a place where they will compost it). Clear the ground of grass, weeds, plants, or yard waste until you get a plot of bare earth. Once the ground is clear, add a two to three inch deep layer of twigs or straw. This ensures better drainage and helps aerate the mound. Next, add the yard waste in alternate layers of moist and dry materials.
Add a nitrogen source in the form of animal or green manure. Good sources include wheatgrass, clover, and buckwheat, which is why these crops are grown on in rotation on plots of land used for organic farming. The nitrogen activates the compost pile and helps speed up the process. Make sure you keep the compost slightly moist. Given the normal amounts of precipitation here in central Ohio, it should only be an issue in times of drought. If needed, water the compost pile or bin occasionally but that and the occasional turning for aeration, is about all you need to do, then just let nature take it’s course.
If you live in a urban or suburban area you may want to buy or build a bin that will keep scavengers and pests from getting into your compost pile. Otherwise, cover the mound with wood or mulch to help retain moisture. Finally, give the pile a quick turn every other week with a pitchfork to provide aeration and to help the bio-degradtion.
Supplementing your compost
Many organic gardeners add specific ingredients to for trace nutrients or microbes; two of the most common are egg shells and coffee grounds but please be careful before you consider doing so, any type of food can draw bugs, animals and other pests. As noted above, there are special bins you can buy or build to facilitate composting and to make it easier (more compact, keep out animals, etc.)
Composting yard waste keeps it out of our landfills, keeps the nutrients in our local eco-system, and is an effective way of recycling of natural materials. It is a great aid to organic farming or suburban landscaping, as it produces, fresh, 100 percent green fertilizer for plants.
Many central Ohioans find themselves too busy to do everything they should, or want, to do for the environment, and this includes composting. In the Columbus area you can call Junk King Columbus for yard waste removal and we’ll handle it for you. We take everything possible, which means all organic yard waste, to a facility which composts and then re-uses it locally.