At it’s most basic level household composting is the use of simple, active strategies to break down organic domestic and community ‘waste’ materials – food scraps, lawn clippings, fallen leaves, animal manures etc – to create a valuable nutrient-laden additive for garden soils.
Soil Nutrition: While they are certainly ‘organic’ materials, the nutrient potential of kitchen and garden wastes cannot be realized until they break down into forms available to plants. Coffee grounds are – for example – rich in nitrogen and potassium, but these essential plant nutrients do not become available in a form that most plant roots can use without many weeks of digestion in the compost mix!
Soil Structure: Compost can also provide important structural and chemical qualities to soils that are compacted (such as heavy clays), leached and deficient (such as coastal sands) or excessively acidic or alkaline.
Closing the Loop: Composting is also a useful and low-cost strategy for households seeking to reduce their kitchen or garden contributions to the municipal waste stream (otherwise known as ‘land-fill’) and recycle the essential resources ’embodied’ in the food we eat and coffee we drink.
Composting strategies: Simple and straightforward ways by which we can recycle organic ‘wastes’ from cafes, households, backyards and elsewhere to:
- reduce organic wastes going to landfill
- reduce contributions to GHGs – Greenhouse Gas emissions
- generate invaluable soil improvement materials and nutrients.
There are a variety of strategies available to the home composter and they are all pretty straightforward. However we are dealing with organic materials and living things – most of which we can’t see and monitor directly! All composting strategies require a degree of experimentation and experience, and the gradual development of personal skills and insight.
It’s a bit like learning to cook something new – you may have a great recipe, but to get a good outcome you may need to try it repeatedly until you understand what’s going on, can manage the variables and get the result you want! And as always when ‘cooking’ – don’t panic! Just think about what’s happening and take the logical ‘next step’!
On the linked pages you will find essential information to assist you to:
- get started
- choose composting approaches that will best suit your situation
- better understand the biomechanical and chemical processes involved
- manage your composting system & develop your skills
- solve problems & monitor the progress of your composting ‘mix’.