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How to compost at home?

In this post we will tell you about compost and how to do it at home. Composting is an easy way to reduce the waste produced by your household, transforming waste from the kitchen or the garden into organic fertilizer for plants. Producing compost is not complicated but requires some preparation to avoid frustrations. Once you start composting, you will see how the volume of trash you produce each week drastically reduces.

What is composting?

Composting is the process by which waste from the kitchen or garden is transformed into organic fertilizer. This process is based on the action of microorganisms that feed on organic waste. These microorganisms are bacteria, fungi and protozoa that consume organic matter to live. There are also some insects that participate in this process, such as earthworms, ants, fruit flies and snails.

compost
Kitchen scraps ready for compost

What can be composted?

Almost any biodegradable material can be composted, but the times of the process can vary. The remains of fruits and vegetables such as peels, seeds, stems and leaves can take around 45 days to become compost. Other elements, such as wood or eggshells can take up to 6 months to completely degrade.

Dairy products, meats and whole eggs can be composted, but they produce bad odors and can attract rodents, so it is not recommended to include them in the compost pile if it is near or inside the house. On the other hand, elements such as cigarette butts, ashes, fats and oils can interfere with the composting process, by modifying the pH of your compost pile, so we suggest leaving them aside.

Other biodegradable elements such as animal feces, require special conditions with high temperatures to be composted safely, as they can spread parasites and other diseases. Therefore, adding them to your compost pile is not recommended either.

pila de compost
An outdoor compost pile

How to compost at home?

The first thing you need to compost is a suitable container. This may vary depending on the space you have available, and if you want to install your composter in the kitchen or outside your home. There are different types of composters that can be installed in small spaces, such as your kitchen or a balcony or terrace. These can be ‘ready to use’ purchased composters or handmade.

Terracota pots with a lid or gallon plastic buckets (with perforations to allow oxygenation) make great DIY ones. The clay pots or terracota are ideal for enclosed spaces, because they are porous, they allow the circulation of the air without letting out odors. You can build a homemade composter by stacking two to three clay pots and using two terracotta plates, one as a base and the other as a lid. The pots must have a hole in the bottom to allow water to drain.

matera de terra cota
Using terra-cotta pots to make a homemade composter

Step by step

The first step is to assemble your composter. If you are going to build a composter out of pots, read on, if you have one ready to go, read after point 1.

The size of your composter depends on the number of people in your household and your habits, because the more you cook, the more waste you will produce. For a household of 4 people, use 3 clay pots of maximum 15 liters of capacity (30 cm high by 25 cm in diameter) and two plates of 30 cm in diameter. If they are less people you can use only 2 pots. We do not recommend you to stack more than 3 pots since the composter can lose stability.

  1. The first step is to cover the bottom of your containers with a sheet of newspaper. This works like a filter that allows only the exit of the water left over from the process.
  2. The second step is to start separating your compostable waste and add it to the upper container (A) of your composter until it reaches 3/4 of the capacity. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will degrade.
  3. Each time you add waste to the container, mix it a little with the previous contents using a shovel. Remember to always cover your composter to avoid odors and insects.
  4. If your composter has 3 levels, first fill the upper one (A) up to 3/4 of its capacity and then interchange it with the middle one (B) and start filling it too.
  5. A few days later, the volume of waste in your upper container (A)
    must be reduced. So, pour it into the lower container (C). When the middle container (B)´s volume has also reduced, empty it in the lower one (C) as well.
  6. Once containers (A) and (B) are emptied into the lower container, you can start filling them again..
  7. After 45 days, your compost in the lower container (C) is ready to use. It must have a dark brown color and an earthy smell.

In addition, you can use red earthworms to speed up the composting process. Just add them to your composter when you have filled the lower container (C) for the first time.

You can use the previous cheat sheet to know what type of waste is suitable for composting. We hope that you are encouraged to start composting at home, it is a simple way to dramatically reduce the garbage we produce at home.

Posted in Impacto ambiental personal

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