You can avoid waste and grow healthy plants at the same time.

How? By composting.

You only need a compost bin, vegetable food waste, some paperboard, and a compost bin.

Together with the earthworms and other organisms, the bacteria in the environment will transform all this waste into a natural fertilizer for your indoor and garden plants.

What can you compost?

Vegetable waste and egg shell in a compost bin.

For healthy compost, you need to add brown materials and green materials.

Brown materials include dried grass, fall leaves, cardboard, and wood branches. It’s dry and rich in carbon.

Green materials include fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, grass cuttings, and used coffee. It’s moist and rich in nitrogen.

A balanced compost is composed of green and brown materials in a ratio of 1:2.

So, one part of green material for two parts of brown material.

Green materials

  • Fruit and vegetables – Put your fruit and vegetable waste – without any labels – into a kitchen compost bin or simply in a bowl, then put it in a composter. Add citrus peel in moderation since it slows down fermentation by the action of their essential oils—the same thing for garlic, which is also harmful to earthworms.
  • Plant beverages – You can compost plant beverage waste like coffee, tea, wine, and beer. Compost only coffee and tea bags made of natural fabric, like organic cotton.
  • Egg shells – By adding egg shells you add calcium to your compost, which is nourishing for you plants.
  • Other food waste – Generally, you should avoid composting pasta, cakes, meat, and fish, because they may attract unwanted animals.
  • Garden wet waste – Healthy leaves, grass cuts in small quantity. Leaves of plants resistant to maceration to be added with moderation and cut into small pieces

Brown materials

  • Non-food household waste – Paperboard, cardboard, paper napkins.
  • Garden dry waste – Dried grass, fall leaves, small branches.
  • Other – Natural latex products; small amounts of natural fabrics, and fibers; Pet hair, hair, and nail clippings.

What to avoid in the compost?

It would be better to avoid putting pasta, cakes, meat, and fish in the compost bin, because they may attract unwanted animals.

Citrus fruit like orange peels, onion, and garlic scraps should be added in tiny amounts. In fact, the essential oils in citrus peel, as well as garlic and onion slow down composting since they are harmful to warms.

On the other hand, garlic is a rodent deterrent. Adding garlic keeps mice away.

How long does it take to produce compost? 

Depending on the temperature and humidity, it will take from 4-6 weeks up to 6-12 months to produce ready-to-use compost. In general, the smaller the organic particles, the faster they decompose.

At the end of this period, the materials are generally entirely broken down into humus.

How do you know when the compost is ready to use?

If you see plenty of earthworms and other organisms like flies and woodlice, the compost is not yet mature. Otherwise, if the compost is dark, almost without flies and worms, the compost has reached the degree of maturity. To summarize, compost is ready to use when:

  • Its color is dark, with a smell of soil and a soft appearance
  • The starting materials are not recognizable, except a few woody branches
  • There are almost no flies or worms
  • The temperature is decreased to average temperature

How to use compost

Use compost to fertilize your indoor plants and the plants in your garden. The vegetables of your kitchen garden will benefit from its nutrients.

Spread the compost on the soil before planting.

During Spring, put the compost at the base of growing plants as a fertilizer.

In Autumn, add compost to improve the soil.

When planting, in what proportions should compost be used?

Compost is a very nutritious natural fertilizer. The temptation may be to use it pure when planting, thinking that the plants will grow better. In reality, using pure compost, you would damage your plants because it would burn them. The ideal is to use it in 1 part compost to 4 parts soil.

What to do if …

  • The compost smells bad – It can be due to the lack of air or excess water. Try stirring up the matter and adding leaves and straw.
  • There are too many flies. Incorporate new waste into the compost.
  • Cut grass is difficult to decompose. Cut the lawn often so that the grass cut will be cut into smaller pieces.
  • Hard pieces like ananas leaves do not decompose properly. Cut them into smaller pieces; they will decompose faster.

Remember to stir the material often from the top of the composter!

By composting, you contribute to reducing waste, and in exchange, you will have high-quality fertilizer for all your plants.

Tips: Composting with kids is fun! Involve them in preparing compost and make them aware of the importance of this “brown gold”!

About Valentina

Valentina is an international communication consultant. She has served communication and PR agencies for several years by providing insights into local French and Italian food trends and traditions. Thanks to her multicultural background, she focuses on promoting intercultural collaboration for sustainable living.