Composting Basics: A Beginner's Tale

July 14, 2019

Composting Basics: A Beginner's Tale

Composting reduces greenhouse gasses, reduces landfill waste, provides nutrients to soil and has a variety of other benefits.

For years I wanted to grow my own organic fruits and vegetables, finally doing so fairly recently. My first garden was successful considering my lack of experience, providing an abundance of delicious tomatoes, jalapeños, okra and strawberries. The cucumbers didn't make it, and my squash ALMOST did; it was affected by some sort of disease and despite my attempt to save it, it was a loss.

It was this garden that really peaked my curiosity about composting; where I live in Austin the soil is comprised of a majority of rock and clay and not great for growing much of anything. If I was going to grow my own fruits and vegetables, how could I do it without having to order a truckload of soil? 

By trade I am a barber and a barbershop owner, which allows me to meet and converse with a a lot of people with a wide variety interests and experiences every day. I began talking to my clients about my garden and asking for advice based on their personal experiences; this is how I found out the city of Austin offers a $75 dollar rebate to anyone who purchases a compost bin (link at the end of this post). I had always been conscious of my waste, recycling everything I could and avoiding single use throwaways whenever possible, but I had never been taught about composting.

Why compost?

According to Cornell Composting, "Composting provides a partial solution to an issue of great concern in many communities. All around the country, landfills are filling up, garbage incineration is becoming increasingly unpopular, and other waste disposal options are becoming ever harder to find. Composting provides a way not only of reducing the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of, but also of converting it into a product that is useful for gardening, landscaping, or house plants" (1996).

Huff Post states "Your food gets dumped in landfills, where it’s trapped by tons of garbage, which generate 20 percent of the nations’ emissions of greenhouse gases. Microorganisms break it down by anaerobic digestion, emitting methane and carbon dioxide. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that is 22 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. In a biogas facility, food scraps can generate electricity, but when food sits in landfills, the only work it does is raise the global temperature" (2019).

I encourage you to go to a search engine and type in "why compost" and you will learn soo much, from many resources.
The point of this post was to tell y'all how composting improved my soil and helped me to start my first successful garden without using any additives other than one bag of soil from my local nursery and a whole lot of compost. Composting is quite easy and there are SO MANY resources available on the internet to guide you.
Green and Brown?
I personally found that green was easy to come by, but brown (which is needed in a higher percentage than green for successful compost) wasn't as abundant for me. By doing just a little research online, I found that the hair I was throwing away at my barbershop every day could be added to my compost pile to help increase my brown ratio. Hence, I managed to reduce my waste and add to my compost pile.

 One of many available resources you can find discussing green and brown here

I wanted to keep this brief, so I will end this with saying composting is quite easy and a wonderful way to reduce waste. The internet is chock full of resources to guide you, and you don't need to spend a lot of money to get started. A composter is nice to have, but you can merely start with a pile in your backyard, no fancy equipment is necessary. I merely have a $35 open plastic compost holder, and a $25 kitchen compost bin for my daily food scraps.

Note- you can find kitchen compost bins for cheaper, or you can just use a sealable container or dump right in your pile. I just wanted something that looked cute with my decor :)



Cute Kitchen Compost Bin

Austin Compost Bin Rebate Program

For those of you in Austin interested in keeping compostable materials out of landfills, but do not have space for your own bin you can participate in the curbside collection program

Cornell Composting

Huff Post





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