Composting is a very smart thing to do, prepping or not. It allows your soil to prosper and is very eco-friendly. Plus, you can get a lot of benefits from composting. There's no reason to not start composting, so check out this guide on how to start, thanks to the folks from Survival Sullivan.
What You Need for A+ Compost
We’ve covered what it is and why it’s important, but now, you’re going to need to apply a small amount of effort to start the decomposition process. You can expect anywhere from two months to four months to get ready-to-use compost for your crops.
A compost bin—you’ll start here to speed up the process. Leaving messy piles in the yard puts your compost at risk to the elements in their key stages of creation, as well as animals using it as a place to do their business. A good compost bin doesn’t follow a dimensional requirement, however, if you’re looking to avoid spontaneous combustion as I mentioned earlier, you should stick to an area of three cubic feet. It provides good ventilation; nearly promising you won’t get rotten compost.
Recommended below are the components to an inexpensive, effective compost bin:
- Plastic outside trash barrel with lockable lid
- Some sort of a platform, such as a few wooden planks or bricks
- Drill and screws to attach the barrel to said platform
- Drill’s second use: puncture holes every 5 inches on container for aeration
Sounds kid of redundant, doesn’t it? Your compost, while an organic material, can be created the wrong way, making it essentially useless (and rather stinky.)
Your compost needs to breathe. In order to do that, you should regularly churn the compost bin components with a pitchfork or something of that sort, so the matter resting at the bottom has a chance to oxidize. Components in your compost make an array of odors when certain balances are thrown off.
Compost piles smell like ammonia when they give off excess nitrogen, which is in short, ammonia. If you’re adding high-nitrogen enriched components to your pile, this is bound to happen. This is most common when your compost has an abundance of green materials. One pro tip to avoid having to turn your pile often (since it can be a narcotizing experience) is to jam a few sticks in the center of your pile. It allows for air to essentially leak in, aerating the inside of the compost heap, taking out some of the guesswork for you.
Dead leaves and brush are extremely high in carbon, and as a result, compose slowly on their own. When mixed into the larger pile, that may slow or even stop entirely. Your compost is lacking moisture; throw on a pair of gloves and dig through the heap. If it’s not moist enough, the decomposition process will halt completely. This can be easily remedied with a quick run over with the hose.
Building the Heap
Equipped with basic knowledge of what compost is, and how to create your own compost bin along with maintaining your compost. It’s time to get a pile going. You’d be surprised at what is considered organic, compostable waste.
- Yard Trimmings: Take a poke around the yard; you could certainly trim back a bit, or perhaps you already have a small pile in the corner. The contents of your mower, fallen twigs, branches, any removed moss. It’s all good.
- Shredded Newspaper: Pretty cool, right? Each one of your morning papers could do just as well in the recycling bin as they could in your yard. In an SHTF scenario, you’re probably not going to get daily newspapers delivered. Any that you have laying around, rip them into little bits and toss them in the bin.
- Wood Chips: Ever heard of mulch fires in the dead of summer? That’s because mulch is constantly decomposing. It makes a great addition for compost heaps.
- Coffee Grounds: This includes the wet filters after you make a pot of coffee. It’s paper and will aid in keeping moisture in the compost, as well as the water trapped in the grounds.
- Egg Shells (Crushed): They take a little while to decompose, but add a great blend to your compost.
- Tea Leaves (Loose): Unless you can verify that the teabags are created of natural, organic material (like hemp), you’ll want to loosen the leaves before adding them to the compost.
- Used Paper Napkins/Towels: Same principle as the coffee filters. Paper came from nature, it can go back.
- Fruit and Vegetable Scraps: Well, this one’s probably not that Read below to see what of this category should NOT go in your compost pile.
- Cooked Rice: This applies to all pasta.
- Stale Bread: Also, tortilla chips, potato chips, and crackers.
Mistakes to Avoid
- Don’t Start Small: Although I explained this in a test size of three cubic feet, if you’re serious about doing this, start with a cheap, custom-made compost bin like we talked about earlier. It’s a great preliminary before you spend $80-$105 on professional compost bins
- Don’t Depend on One Source: For compostable matter, that is. Things come and go in supply, and there isn’t one way to know what will be available. Keep your options open between green and brown matter.
- Don’t Get Overwhelmed: It’s easy; don’t overthink it. 99% of the time and work is all nature’s way.
- Don’t Use Citrus Peels: I know earlier I stated to use fruit and vegetable peels without prejudice. However, one of your greatest attributing factors to a fast decomposition are worms inhabiting the compost pile. Citrus peels can kill them.
That's all pretty simple, see? With just some effort and preparation, you can have a fully working compost setup. With that, you've got an Earth-friendly waste system, and a great fertilizer option! There's no reason to not begin composting.
Learning how to properly compost, combined with some gardening skill, can equal great results for prosperous food stocks! To see more about DIY composting, check out Survival Sullivan.
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