How to start a compost bin with organic waste produced in quarantine
09 Apr 2020
In a context of sanitary crisis, INTA highlighted the benefits of composting: reduction of greenhouse gases and a source of nutrients for plants and crops, among the advantages.
In a context of health crisis, INTA highlights the benefits of composting with organic waste produced at home as a source of nutrients for plants and crops. Reduction of greenhouse gases, proliferation of pathogens and the frequency for their collection, among the advantages.
The world is facing a health crisis in which the need to be more sustainable, to opt for the circular economy to reduce waste and, thus, become more environmentally friendly. Recovery, recycling and composting are the way to go to ensure a better quality of life. In this line, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development ordered by Resolution 92/2020 that from March 22 (water day) to April 27 (Earth day), in Argentina will be held the Composting Month .
“The production of household compost is an opportunity to turn household waste into an organic amendment, in addition to numerous other benefits related to improving the quality of life and being more sustainable,” said Alejandro Benítez, technician at INTA ProHuerta Córdoba.
In this line, he stressed that “composting reduces the frequency of waste collection, minimizing the generation of leachate at the final disposal site of waste and the proliferation of pathogens, while reducing gas emissions with effect greenhouse”.
In turn, a useful amendment is obtained for plants in gardens, orchards and balconies, since it improves the life of the soil. In case you still do not have your own garden in your home (lack of space is not an excuse), we suggest that you start it during social, preventive and compulsory isolation (to know how to start your own garden during quarantine and what sow, click here).
The garden complements compost very well, since it reduces the need to buy chemical fertilizers and fertilizers, while promoting an awareness of recycling and taking advantage of the waste we produce.
Composting consists of a biological process carried out by aerobic microorganisms, under controlled humidity, temperature and aeration conditions. Thus, the transformation of degradable organic waste into a stable product is allowed.
A wide variety of building materials can be used to make a compost bin, from wooden pallet boards, sawmill or battens, to discarded paint buckets. Composts can be mobile or fixed and their size will depend on the number of family members. If you are interested in learning how to make a homemade compost bin and reuse food, click here.
In general, for households with up to 3 people, a fertilizer spreader 70 centimeters wide by 80 centimeters long and 50 centimeters high will be necessary. When people amount to 5, the length will be 1.2 meters and the rest of the measurements will be the same. In the case of a family of up to 7 people, the length will be 1.5 meters.
As a routine, it is important to have a container with a tight lid on the kitchen counter where organic waste such as fruit and vegetable remains, raw or cooked, eggshells, tea bags, yerba, coffee, napkins and kitchen paper rolls. Tissues, diapers, and sanitary pads will not be included.
“To facilitate the action of microorganisms, it is recommended to chop everything into 5-centimeter sizes, before composting,” said the ProHuerta specialist.
Nor are dairy residues, fats, eggs and meats, since they are difficult to break down and attract vectors such as flies, mosquitoes, rodents and pests in general. “You should not include processed foods either, because they contribute many salts to the compost, reducing its final quality, in addition to attracting vectors,” Benítez recommended.
Regarding garden waste, dry green leaves, dry green grass, twigs, shrubs and plant debris will be collected. Seed weed residues, dog and cat droppings, pigs or chickens will not be included.
To pour organic waste into the compost bin, its classification by its nitrogen (green) and carbon (brown) content must be taken into account in order to maintain a balance between the two. Specialists recommend mixing one part of green waste with two parts of dry waste.
In turn, to guarantee quality, in addition, the materials that help maintain adequate humidity and ventilation must be considered. The main recommendations include watering once every 15 days in winter and once a week in summer.
An easy way to tell if it contains adequate moisture is to take a handful of material and squeeze it. If there is a drip of water between your fingers, it is correct. “To avoid excess moisture, it is appropriate to have red worms that help aerate the residue,” specified the technician.
Regarding aeration, it is advisable to turn the material to increase oxygen-dependent microbial activity and help eliminate excess water and heat. “It is important that the bottom of each container is a strainer type so that it can eliminate liquids and the passage of worms,” he explained.
“The compost will be ready for use in plants when the origin of the materials cannot be identified, it is at room temperature, it has a smell of wet earth, it is dark in color and it has a homogeneous appearance,” said the ProHuerta technician.