Composting and Its Benefits
By Gabriella Nashiva & Allan Kai
The seeming halt on life due to the Coronavirus pandemic need not be a deterrent from trying new things. Trying a hand in home gardening is a great way to kill time and ease some stress. Many have ventured in to this gardening space right now, so while you are at it, why not start your own compost pile and see what you can get out of it.
100% organic fertilizers are hard to come by and I’m sure from your research on home gardening tricks and techniques, you may have come across the term “compost” and the many benefits it has on the soil which leads to healthy yields.
Well, compost is simply a mixture of decayed plants, organic waste and food scraps, that can be added to soil in order to help them grow successfully. Generally, any plant waste material can be used. Leaves, weeds, lawn cuttings, small pruning and garden wastes are commonly used materials. To speed up decomposition, small amounts of nitrogenous fertilizer may be added onto the heap at regular intervals as the heap is filled up. The pile should also be kept moist but not wet.
Close to 70% of waste being disposed in our dumping sites is organic in nature. This waste can be put to good use should we choose to make good use of the organic waste and transform it in to compost before it lands in the wastelands, where carbon emissions increase and deadly methane gas is released into the atmosphere.
Benefits of Compost
For starters, it provides humus (the decomposed form of organic matter) which is the best source of nutrients for plants. Secondly, it provides organic matter to the soil, which helps soil fertility. Also, it improves soil structure and finally, it provides nourishment to the microbial life in the soil.
How to Make Compost
1) Dig or make a compost pit 1.2m wide, 1.2m long and 60cm in depth. Alternatively, you can form a heap with dimensions of 1.2m length, 1.2m in width and 1.2m in height.
2) Fill the pit with the fresh organic materials to half the depth of the pit or height of the heap. Note that the corners of the heap should have wooden pegs or posts to secure the materials.
3) Apply small quantities of nitrogenous fertilizer on top of the material and FYM to provide the nourishment for the micro-organisms
4) Apply a thin layer of topsoil on top of the compost heap to provide micro-organisms
5) The same procedure is repeated until the pit is full or the heap reaches the desired height
6) The pit should be kept moist by regular sprinkling water on top
7) Make the 2nd, 3rd and 4th compost pits or heaps like the first one
8) After three to four weeks, transfer the materials from Pit 1 to Pit 2 then 3, 4 and 5, respectively until the material is fully decomposed and ready for use. In each pit or heap, the material takes about three to four weeks.
Composting is a slow process hence patience is key. Also, it helpswhen the organic material being composted is chopped and diced in to small chuncks as possible in porder to hasten the process and for better compost.
Also, make sure to start your compost heap at a location away from the main house and neighbors as the smell from the decomposing materials may be unbearable to some.