Composting is one of nature’s most spectacular and most essential processes. Without it, life would be very different, and probably not possible. It is fueled by anything and everything organic, from paper to manure, and even ourselves. Everything that has ever lived, or will live, is a product and source of compost. It is a never ending cycle that can be very advantageous to the self-sustainable homestead.
In this article, we will deal exclusively with aerobic composting. Anaerobic composting is discussed in the methane page. Both are essentially the same overall process, but involve different bacteria and methods.
Aerobic composting takes place in the presence of oxygen. It also needs moisture, organic content, and naturally occurring organisms to process the organic matter. Some people and books would have you believe that composting is difficult or needs special equipment. This is simply not true, and it will happen whether you are there or not. What is sometimes difficult for the beginner is producing usable compost, although with a little guidance, you can be a compost pro in no time.
There are many different methods for composting, using bins or containers, piles, windrows, aerators, and much more. We will be focusing on the methods we use: a pile and a bin.
The easiest way to compost is the pile method. Personally, we believe compost should be as simple as possible, and as quick as you can make it without adding much labor.
Compost adds soil fertility, which in turn, adds plants to the ecosystem. With more plants, we have less CO2 in the atmosphere. Compost is like high energy food for plants. They love it, and will show their appreciation by growing big, strong and beautiful.
We are in the process of making a forest garden. We have a fence around the orchard terraces that are not yet planted, and within that fence the chickens are working on enriching the soil. Compost bins are an essential part of this process.