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How to make compost at home

Hello again readers of Way to Zero Waste. As we already told you in an older post about the benefits of compost, today we are going to show you the steps to make compost at home in a very simple way.

What can I compost?

What you can use to make your compost is anything that provides carbon and nitrogen.

Here are some items that you can compost:

  • Raw or cooked fruit and vegetable scraps.

  • Yerba mate

  • Coffee or tea grounds

  • Grass clippings

  • Orchard or garden plants

  • Shredded or chopped branches from pruning (up to 3 centimeters thick)

  • Bushes and shrubs

  • Medicinal plants

  • Fallen leaves from trees and shrubs (avoiding walnut and royal laurel)

  • Grass clippings

  • Organic food scraps in general (not meat)

  • Eggshells (better crushed because they take time to decompose)

  • Leftovers from herbal teas (be careful that the paper is organic and without dyes)

  • Napkins and paper handkerchiefs (not printed or colored)

  • Haircuts (not dyed)

  • Raw wool or wool from old mattresses (in small layers and mixed)

  • Remnants of wine, vinegar, beer or spirits

  • Edible oils and fats (very scattered and in small quantity)

  • Nut shells

  • Orange, citrus or pineapple peels (few and chopped)

  • Ashes (sprinkled and pre-wetted)

  • Sawdust shavings (in small quantity)

  • Paper and cardboard (without color ink printing); better to recycle them.

  • Vegetable sponges (of the models that we have in are compostable those that do not have added any type of other material)

  • Bamboo toothbrush handle (MERAKI is a brand we sell in, the 3% is made up of bristles, that is extracted and recycled)

  • Wooden combs and brushes (from nature to nature, if you have to buy a new one check the models we have in

The following cannot be composted:

  • Bread: this includes any bakery by-product because they generate fungi.

  • Cooked oil: its smell attracts insects

  • Sick plants: it spreads fungi.

  • Colored printed paper: because it contains a large amount of chemicals that are toxic to plants.

  • Human or animal feces: because of the bacteria they may contain.

  • Meat products: attract pests and generate bad odor.

  • Dairy products: their odor is attractive to pests.

  • Rice: is a breeding ground for bacteria.

  • Sawdust: Although it can be good to include it in the layers to dry, only a small amount should be used, since it alters the degree of acidity.

  • Remains of tobacco

  • Citrus peels (in large quantities).

  • Contents of vacuum cleaner bags

  • Wood ash and charcoal (in large quantities due to the harmful substances they contain).

(Via: Circulo Natural)

Types of compost

1. Common compost

The common compost is the most common and simple to make homemade compost and depends mainly on the way and place in which we are going to apply the organic matter. To elaborate well this type of compost, we must make a correct separation and maintain a correct proportion of the residues, that we will separate between humid and dry or, between rich in carbon or rich in nitrogen.

In this way, if we observe that the compost is greasy or gives off strong odors, it is most likely that it contains too much nitrogen-rich waste. On the other hand, if the decomposition time is too slow, it is probably due to an excess of carbon-rich materials.

2. Vermicompost or earthworm humus

Also known as worm humus, this vermicompost is one of the most beneficial for the soil due to its high level of nutrients and its high beneficial microbial load.

Vermicompost is normally made with California red worms, known for their great voracity and their capacity to consume practically any organic vegetable waste, except for citrus and products of the garlic and onion family.

3. Bokashi or Japanese compost

Bokashi is a type of compost originating in Japan, which is why it is also known as Japanese compost. Japanese rice farmers in this country developed it as an alternative to take advantage of their residues and wastes for use in their crops.

Its main advantage over the rest is that the decomposition process is much faster thanks to the addition of a culture of microorganisms prepared with water, molasses and yeast. Bokashi also contains poultry manure or poultry compost, as well as ashes, rice husks and charcoal, although some of these materials can be substituted.

4. Electric composter

They are capable of processing food scraps into organic compost in just 24 hours. It could be a solution for large families or businesses that produce a lot of organic waste, or for those who do not want to invest their time in learning about compost but want to contribute to the climate fight.

The composter

The composter is the box or container in which we will add the different layers of waste that will form our homemade compost. You can use and recycle almost anything: a wooden box, a base of construction planks, a pot or large planter...

Any container will do as long as it is not in direct contact with the soil. If you use, for example, a flowerpot or a plastic box, you should make some holes in the base and place a first layer of soil and a second layer of dry materials such as straw, pruning branch remains, sawdust, etc. These first dry layers will prevent the bottom of your composter from rotting and spoiling the mixture.

Steps to follow and tools needed

1. We will need a composter in which to grow our homemade compost in which to add the raw material. We can buy this container or build our own by recycling and giving a second life to objects that have already fulfilled their initial task. Some examples of how to do it are: old pots, pallets, wooden fruit crates, etc.

2. Add the first layer and as a base place straw or twigs of plants as these will help with the drainage and aeration of the compost.

3. Add layers to your compost of organic material left over from your kitchen, alternating between dry and wet to maintain balance and avoid odors or mold. Wet is considered to be vegetable and fruit peels and tea bags, and dry elements are sawdust, leaves, ash and straw. It is very important to take into account the proportion, since we always have to keep in mind that we must add two parts of green for one part of dry.

Finally, we will always add a layer of well-dried shredded pruning, to isolate the organic matter from the outside and prevent flies and other insects from approaching and laying their eggs in our compost.

It is necessary to keep in mind that the composter is not a garbage can, but a container that later will serve to enrich the land of our urban orchard or of the plants of our flowerpots.

4. Water your compost, it is important that the compost is humid so that the ingredients decompose and do their work.

5. Stir the compost from time to time to allow it to oxygenate. The most important risk of preparing homemade compost is that the waste will rot and to avoid this it is essential to periodically aerate our compost mass.

Now that you know how to make compost at home, you can also read this other Way to Zero Waste post about compost and its benefits where you will find very useful information that you will surely enjoy.

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