Composting is a staple of the permaculture movement.  It provides a way to reduce solid waste as landfills begin to fill and garbage incineration becomes a less acceptable option. Composting also allows for the conversion of waste into a useful product for gardening. Properly derived compost adds a plethora of nutrients and microorganisms to the soil that it is placed into.  It is also one of the most cost effective ways to managing waste. Composting eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers, increased moisture retention in soil so you have to do less watering, and composting nutrients live deep in the soil, so they aren’t washed away like plant foods or garden additives.

What do you put in it?

The first question that is asked when individuals decide to start composting is, “what goes into a compost pile?”. The answer in short is “brown” and “green” materials. Brown materials are the more ruddy natural items, like branches, and landscaping scraps; green materials are the scraps from fruits, vegetables, etc. Those are the general bases for all compost piles, and one can build on to their compost piles as they see fit. Manure can be added, and many households use their compost piles to house other natural waste like eggshells, coffee grounds, etc.

Is there a technique?

There are two major types of composting: the hot compost technique and the cold post technique. When hot composting, the pile must remain moist (think: sponge consistency), and the temperature of the compost must stay between 110 and 140 degrees fahrenheit. Hot composting is a faster method of composting as the heat breaks down all of the components more quickly.  Cold composting is not really cold per se, it’s just cold in comparison to the hot method. Cold composting just involves leaving the compost pile alone and allowing it to break down naturally. It’s a much slower process and can take up to a year to breakdown.

There are several different methods of composting that are becoming increasingly popular. Everyone has a method that works best for their particular needs and living situation. The most popular methods are: Bin, Turning Bin, Pile, Sheet, or Pit.

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