In gardening, everything, from ornamental indoor plants to delicious produce, needs a boost now and then. The best gardeners solve this problem by stocking up on compost, which gives the soil the energy and nutrients it needs to support strong, healthy plants. While store-bought compost is available, the most eco- and wallet-friendly option is to create your own.
Why You Should Compost
One of the biggest benefits of home composting is the dramatic impact it can have on your carbon footprint. Studies even suggest that simply switching to composting over tossing your food waste can cut your carbon footprint in half.
By reducing the amount of waste you contribute to the ever-growing stream, you remove a fair deal of emissions from the air. This is because, regardless of what you’re throwing out, all trash ultimately ends up in a landfill. These nasty areas do more than mar the beauty of the land; landfills also contribute to the release of harmful methane.
There are also financial benefits to composting. You can save anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of dollars per year by opting to produce your own compost instead of purchasing it.
Elements Needed for Successful Composting
There are many different composting methods, but they all share the same basic components. Composting is a process that relies upon a set balance of various pieces. Like a puzzle, every part must be in its proper place for composting to produce meaningful results.
The most obvious necessity of composting is the organic materials that are added. In fancy farmer parlance, this is known as compost “greens and browns.” Contents of this slurry may range from cardboard to puréed carrots and everything in between.
Even the best types of composting fail without proper balance. When adding to a compost pile, the ratio of its contents must be taken into account. Too many “wet” items will produce rot, while too many dry items will fail to do much of anything.
Good compost retains moisture. A sufficiently moist environment provides the microscopic organisms within compost the chance to begin their anaerobic decomposition.
Once again, routing back to the balance of compost, a good compost mixture also needs aid. Too much air will create dry, crumbly, and useless dust at the end of a cycle. However, too little air often results in a soggy, smelly sludge.
Finally, compost needs heat. Without heat, the microorganisms cannot properly break down the compost. In situations with living organisms, such as worms, these critical critters will also slow down or hibernate when exposed to the cold for too long.
Types of Composting
Among the various methods of composting, there are a few overarching “types.” These classifications tend to depend upon the location of the composting bin or how the material is processed.
“Onsite” composting refers to the fact that it is produced at the location of origin. Encompassing many kinds of compost, onsite production tends to be smaller and more individualized. We’ll outline the two major types of onsite composting, but each category also comes with individual routes to follow. We’ll get to those a bit later.
The most commonly thought of out of the different types of composting, outdoor composting, is often done in bins or piles. Outdoor composting is labor-intensive and, as the name suggests, usually depends upon a decent amount of space being available. Unless you live in the tropics, this approach also involves seasonal planning.
As opposed to outdoor composting, indoor composting is more adaptable. Depending on the route you choose, you can even fit an indoor composting option into the smallest apartments!
Aerated Windrow Composting
Windrow composting is not a method that’s available to the majority of people. This extensive operation relies on laying out the material into long lines, known as “windrows,” compost. Using manual or automated labor (or, in some cases, a little bit of both), these rows are turned and aerated.
Due to the amount of land and effort required to maintain windrow compost, it is often done on a municipal level. Cities will collect compostable materials to stock the fields. Then, using this material, they form the windrows.
How to Compost at Home
Even with these classifications, these many composting methods are still umbrella terms. If you want to compost at home, you’ll need to learn a bit more about some of the most common approaches to creating compost.
While it may seem simple, we’ve already touched upon the difficulties of outdoor composting. This arduous process is extremely seasonal, but it has the potential to provide a great deal of compost. If you happen to live on a large plot of land or do an immense amount of gardening, then you likely already have or would benefit from outdoor composting.
Open Air Composting
The most common approach to outdoor composting is open-air composting. Unlike bins or crates, this approach plops down the material outdoors and lets nature do its thing. While it is, of course, dependent upon temperature and weather, it also provides a consistent stream of compost once it’s established.
While this method may be done indoors, we certainly don’t recommend it! Direct composting is a bit what it sounds like: the material to be composted is slightly buried in the soil and left to break down on its own. Outdoors, this is a bit like creating tiny micro-piles all around your garden. Indoors, however, it’s a recipe for some very, very smelly plants.
However, as far as this approach goes, it’s perfectly effective. When done properly, direct composting provides all of the same benefits as traditional piles without the necessary upkeep and space restrictions. Instead of maintaining a singular, massive pile, you merely create spots to compost as needed.
Combination composting is a mixture of approaches. In most cases, combination composting is synonymous with open-air composting. This combination of the many different kinds of composting relies upon nature’s ability to provide the nutrients and organisms the dirt needs to thrive.
On a technical level, combination composting benefits from the boosts offered by each of the following methods:
- Vermicomposting (worm bins)
- Effective microorganisms
- Tumbler composting
- Open-air composting
While we’ve touched on open-air composting, the other methods utilized by combination composting haven’t yet been discussed. Keep scrolling to learn about these approaches to producing compost.
Home Composting Bins
At-home composting can be done cheaply and easily by keeping a simple bin. This may be in the form of a store-bought compost bin or by creating your own. All you need is a bucket and your food scraps. The base of a homemade bin should be shredded newspaper, which must be checked regularly to ensure the bin isn’t holding excess moisture.
As with outdoor bins and open-air composting, the primary drawback is speed. It will take months to reap any benefits from a simple standing bucket container, regardless of which composting methods you use. Other potential problems that can arise from traditional indoor bins include:
- Foul odor
- Risk of attracting pests
- Hygiene concerns
It should be noted that odor is a particularly common (if not the most common) complaint when dealing with these bins. Without the perfect ratio of greens to browns, compost tends to get a bit stinky.
While still part of the home composting process, tumbler composting is a bit more refined. Again, the process can be done with a store-bought unit or a homemade option. In a tumbler composter, the user adds material to a spinnable drum, which can be rotated to provide aeration.
Many of the tumbler composting options are rather bulky, even when they are marketed for small spaces. This presents its own challenges and the same drawbacks as home composting.
Vermicomposting (Worm Bins)
A slightly faster option is vermicomposting for those with no qualms about crawly critters. This approach utilizes a variety of critters to help further decompose and enrich the soil that it produces. Some of the commonly utilized organisms for vermicomposting bins are worms, isopods (also known as “roly-polys” or pillbugs), and springtails (the little white things that hop around in your outdoor garden).
In addition to compost, vermicomposting bins offer a unique result: worm tea! This liquid is the byproduct of waterlogged worm castings (a fancy way of saying “worm poop”), and its highly concentrated nutrients can be carefully used to give a plant a huge boost.
However, the vermicomposting approach still retains the same disadvantages as all of the other indoor bin methods. Moreover, should the bin’s balance be inaccurate, you’ll often be left with a rather smelly sludge. This is, of course, in addition to the obvious fact that many people aren’t very keen to keep bugs in their homes.
Slightly less risky than introducing literal worms into your home, effective microorganism (EMO) composting relies upon a pre-prepared “booster” within a composting bin. These boosters, which are often sold in gardening stores, are composed of the essential bacteria and microorganisms that compost needs to get started. To help this process along, some people opt to purchase or create special bins with rotating “mixers,” which can be used to aerate the contents.
Finally, there’s a revolutionary and modern way to do your composting. Electric composters are a novel approach to composting. A bit of a combination composter, these unique machines are capable of producing rich, organic, and nutrient-rich dirt in a short amount of time.
Electric composters come with a variety of benefits and very few drawbacks. Some of the perks electric composter users enjoy are:
- Low maintenance and upkeep
- Year-round productivity
- Quick turnaround time
- Low or no smell
- Low space requirements
- The ability to store their composter away when not in use
While there are many electric composters on the market, there is only one Lomi. This amazing little gizmo takes food scraps and turns them into amazing, nutrient-rich dirt for your plants in just a few hours. This is done by combining all of the essential elements of composting.
- Lomi’s Activated Charcoal Filters provide the microscopic basis for the process. Functionally, these replaceable and recyclable filters provide the same benefits as EMO composting. At the same time, they work to reduce and neutralize odors throughout the process.
- Sensors inside Lomi tell the machine how much to grind up the contents. This step reduces the overall size of the compost while also giving the microorganisms more easily digestible chunks of food.
- Sensors also tell Lomi how much to heat the mixture. This provides the resultant dirt mixture with the perfect amount of thermal energy. Remember: balance is essential to creating good compost.
- Intelligent design allows for Lomi to aerate the contents. As the mixture heats then cools, Lomi’s sensors tell the machine how and when to churn the contents. This provides the critical oxygen to the nutrient-rich soil we’ll need. At the same time, it prevents moisture loss.
At the end of the process, you’re left with gorgeous, vibrant dirt that can be mixed into the soil. We recommend a 1:10 ratio of Lomi product to the soil. In doing so, you provide your plants with a kick of nutritious energy. Think of it as an energy drink for your plant, but without that icky sugar crash at the end.
Unlike some of the other competitors, Lomi is green from start to finish. Pela designs and manufactures every Lomi in a carbon-neutral facility, and we strive to give back to the earth whenever we can. We’ve even done the hard work of making our electric composter the only electric composter with the ability to break down approved bioplastics.
If this exciting innovation is something you’re interested in, then now’s the time to invest! For just $49.99, you can reserve a Lomi for yourself. When your unit ships, you’ll be charged the remaining $450. Join the next wave of eco-friendly gardeners and pick up a Lomi!