Three Different Ways to Compost
There are several ways to compost. Here are three standard methods: Vermicomposting, Anaerobic, and windrow composting. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so you should choose the best method that suits your needs. You can also combine two or more strategies if you like. Direct composting is the easiest way to compost. You dig a hole or a trench and bury your food materials. While this method is easy, it is also the slowest and requires the most time to decompose.
You can recycle your organic waste in two ways: using red wigglers or vermicomposting—these worms, like rotting organic material, thrive in small living spaces. You can find red wigglers at local worm farms or in fishing stores. Make sure the substrate is moist, so the worms are comfortable. Red wigglers do not like to live in a cold environment, but they will do just fine in a warm climate.
The finished vermicompost is rich in nutrients and can be used as a potting soil mix for house plants and as a top dressing for lawns. Vermicompost can also be used as a starting medium for seeds. A 2008 study published in Bioresource Technology found that plants grown in vermicompost soil had better growth in growth and root formation than those grown in soil without the vermicompost. An Ohio State University study published in BioCycle found that tomato plants grown in soil enriched with vermicompost had significantly higher yields than plants grown in conventional soil.
Anaerobic composting is a method of decomposing organic waste in which oxygen is not present in the bin. The absence of oxygen in the container results in fermentation, in which organic compounds break down. Anaerobic organisms consume nutrients in their protoplasm to break down organic matter. This process also produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The resulting slimy mass has a pungent odor.
While anaerobic composting is the quickest way to decompose food scraps, you may find that it takes a while before you get the desired results. For best results, use a bin that is at least three-quarters full. A container that is too full will not result in high-quality compost. This process can take two months or even a whole year. You should also avoid adding twigs or leaves to your compost bin.
The process of windrow composting requires elongated piles, which can be three to ten feet in height. The windrow must be regularly turned, as air cannot quickly move through wet or low-porosity materials. During its active phase, the windrow may require daily attention, such as keeping the compost pile watered. Windrow composting is more expensive than other methods, as it requires a larger piece of land and a way to turn the pile source regularly.
Windrow composting is most common in large communities and organizations. Piles formed in windrow style are four to eight feet high and fourteen to sixteen feet wide. The size allows them to maintain an internal temperature while allowing natural airflow.
This method produces a large amount of compost and can be used in colder climates. However, windrow composting requires a large area, dedicated equipment, and consistent labor to turn the piles.
Summary: Three Different Ways to Compost
Try a compost pile if you’re looking for a quick way to produce your organic material. Depending on your system, producing finished compost can take as little as three weeks. It does require some care, however, as you should keep an eye on the temperature and moisture level of the compost pile.
The ideal compost pile contains 30 parts carbon to one part nitrogen. However, this doesn’t mean that there should be 30 times more brown materials than greens, as each material has a unique Carbon: Nitrogen ratio. A ratio of two-thirds browns to one-third greens is ideal. You can add natural compost accelerants to the pile if you wish. Once the pile is established, keep it moist and turn it regularly.