Compost is a homogenous organic matter resulted from the decomposition of organic household waste, of vegetable and animal origin. Composting mainly involves piling layers of organic waste, mainly originating from kitchens and gardens, inside a container and allowing it to undergo the natural process of disintegration. The result is an excellent natural fertiliser which can later be added to the soil to facilitate the growth and productivity of new plants, particularly vegetables.
Traditional composting involves simply placing the waste in a heap, adding water when too much dry matter is involved (such as withered leaves) and leaving it to decompose, stirring it for occasionally to provide ventilation, in order to speed up the process. Modern composting however is a more sophisticated operation and involves dividing the matter into two types of layers, a type rich in carbon and another rich in nitrogen, which should alternate inside the container. In order to further optimise composting, organisms are sometimes added, mainly worms and fungus.
The exact waste products suitable for composting depend on the type of composter, as some advanced models accept any kind of kitchen waste, including meat and fish. The main types of waste however remain:
- green garden waste (grass cuttings, leaves, weeds)
- dry garden waste (small withered branches, withered leaves, hay, dry wood)
- raw kitchen waste (vegetables, fruit)
- organic liquids (oil, vinegar)
- cooked vegetables and fruit, tea
- hair, fur, feathers
Composting can be achieved with or without a container. Without a container, there are two main forms, the compost pile and trench composting. The compost pile involves simply placing the waste in a heap without enclosing it, whilst trench composting entails digging trenches to fill up with waste, which will constitute the soil for future vegetable planting. A composter can be either made or manufactured, new models coming with additional features.