Start backyard composting this fall
To create wonderfully sweet smelling, nutrient-rich black humus out of our recycled organic waste seems like a miracle!
It’s also fun and exciting!
There’s nothing quite like seeing a pile of autumn leaves, kitchen scraps, grass clippings and other materials transform into dark, humusy finished compost – the most nutritious planting material and soil treatment there is!
Autumn backyard composting is also a great project to do with children and grandchildren.
When I attend a composting workshop at my local community garden I meet Kayla, our energetic instructor.
Kayla instructs adult composting workshops and also teaches at the local schools. She talks about the enthusiasm & engagement she sees at every age level when composters young and young-at-heart witness the transformation from food waste into humus!
As for adult composters, she observes:
“Whether you choose to be a relaxed composter with a slowly decomposing pile, a speedy composter who has finished compost in a matter of weeks, or the scientific composter who carefully measures temperature, adds certain ingredients in specific amounts and turns at the exact right moment to get a high quality product, you will certainly end up with something that makes you feel proud”.
We learn that decomposition occurs faster when compost is layered with ‘green’ and ‘brown’ materials of about equal quantity.
Greens are fruit & veggie scraps, tea/coffee leftovers, fresh grass clippings, weeds & plants, eggshells.
Browns are fallen leaves (best!), straw, chipped wood debris, shredded newspaper, sawdust, dry grass clippings.
To add earthworms is not mandatory, but helps speed up the process. Red wigglers, apparently, are an excellent choice earthworms as they prefer to live in smaller, more enclosed spaces with a concentrated food source.
Turning compost into humus
Healthy, home-made humus – the end-product of the composting cycle – is not just enriching soil, it’s a community of living things, Kayla teaches us. It contains everything plants need.
The goal in composting is to create optimum conditions for microorganisms to thrive and do this recycling work from compost to humus.
In proper composting, nitrogen and oxygen are present in abundance, along with various amounts of potassium, magnesium, and other minerals. In all, humus contains more than 25 minerals and nutrients that plants need for proper growth.
Home-made humus releases micronutrients more slowly and can hold the equivalent of up to 80 to 90 percent of its own weight in moisture. It increases the soil’s capacity to withstand drought and acts as a buffer against too much or too little pH in the soil. The dark color helps to warm up cold soil in the spring.
Pretty powerful stuff!
Good for the soil and for the environment
An important fact I wasn’t aware of Kayla mentions at the end:
When fresh green-waste from the kitchen or landscape are sent to decompose in a landfill, they release high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane because they are being compressed into an anaerobic state. Home composting is a great way to recycle waste that would normally be sent to a landfill.
As with any activity that connects me more to the earth, this backyard composting workshop has opened my eyes once again to the power of nature and the interconnectedness of so many things.
I think I might give it a try and start backyard composting this fall! How about you? See you at the compost pile? 🙂