Posted by Callum VP, on October 5, 2020.
We have all become more aware of the need to be environmentally conscious and to consider ways to reduce waste and recycle materials to create a greener world. Composting is a cheap and effective way to help the environment and your garden. But what are the benefits of composting? We show you some of the many ways it can help you below.
What is composting?
Composting involves the gathering together of unwanted materials that would otherwise be disposed of, placing them in a compost bin and waiting for everything to decompose before turning into compost.
What are the benefits of composting?
Composting will introduce important nutrients to your soil to enrich the overall quality, retaining more moisture along with elements such as nitrogen and carbon. This will play an important role in helping your plants to grow and produce a more vibrant garden as a result. Weeds will also find it harder to grow, saving you time, effort and money when it comes to managing your garden.
Less landfill waste
Because you can use anything from vegetable peelings to unwanted cardboard, composting will help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. Studies have shown we throw away a staggering 6.6 tonnes of household food each year, with 70% being food that could have instead been eaten. Less wastage means lower harmful gases are emitted into the atmosphere, benefitting us all.
Saves on costs
The cost of gardening adds up over time, spending money on chemical fertilisers and watering the garden via a hose connected to a tap. By composting you no longer have to spend money travelling to a local gardening centre to buy more fertiliser and will be able to cut down your water bills. It will also mean you get more from a tank of petrol, making the most of your energy resources too.
Lower carbon footprint
The emission of methane from organic materials in landfills accounts for over a third of methane emissions in the UK. Due to the poor airflow in landfills, food decomposes and enters the atmosphere causing greater harm to the environment. Wherever possible we should do our bit to reduce this level and composting is one of the easiest ways to do so.
Improves air quality
More and more cities are feeling the impact of lower air quality, which disproportionately affects children, the elderly and people with existing medical conditions. Rather than sending waste to landfills, some people choose to burn garden wastage which releases harmful chemicals used in weed killer, fertilisers and insect sprays. Composting is a great alternative, helping to improve air quality by removing the need to burn or dispose of wastage.
Helps manage garden pests
Insect spray is a popular method used by many gardeners to keep pests away from plants and greenery, however, the chemicals can also have a detrimental effect on what you are trying to grow. Compost features micronutrients that work in a similar way to pesticide, which can reduce the need to use chemicals and sprays.
What sort of items can you turn into compost?
There are two basic types of materials that can be used:
- Greens: This can be things such as grass, vegetable and fruit waste and coffee grounds.
- Browns: Twigs, branches, dead leaves are some of the items included here.
It’s important to strike an equal balance between these two groups, along with a good amount of water to help the process, as the moisture will break down the organic material. Green materials provide nitrogen, while brown materials give carbon. Layers inside the compost bin should alternate between the two.
You can also compost things such as:
- Shredded newspaper
- Tea bags
- Hair and fur
- Hay and straw
How to compost
The best way to recycle materials in the garden is to use a compost bin as they promote more warmth and moisture to compost faster. Ensure it is best positioned in a cool area that isn’t exposed to extreme temperatures and high levels of moisture. Place it in a shaded area so it maintains a steady temperature all-year round.
Add a spade of soil to the bottom of the bin to help with drainage and easier access to soil organisms, and be sure to have an equal balance of green and brown materials alternately layered.
It is a good idea to turn the heap once a month, which will add more air and encourage the decomposing process. By not doing this you run the risk of seeing poor results at the end.
In general, you should expect the entire process to take anywhere between 6-24 months. Once ready, the compost will look dark brown with a soil-like texture, smelling like damp woodland.