Composting is a popular way to improve the quality of soil and increase the yield of plants in a sustainable way. And over the years, multiple composting methods have been created with distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Today, we’re going to be taking a look at what those types are and why you should consider using them when gardening.
What Is Composting?
Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter into a natural fertilizer. The organic materials can range from just about anything with the most common example being food scraps, tree leaves, and manure.
Composting offers several key advantages. These include:
- Improves Soil Health
- Lessens Soil Erosion
- Reduces the Amount of Water Nececessary
- Reduces the Amount of Waste
- Less Chemicals End Up in the Ocean From Fertilizers
And potentially one of the biggest advantages is that it reduces methane and carbon dioxide emissions from landfills. Waste that ends up in landfills gets broken down by organisms that do not require oxygen.
However, these insects actually release a small amount of biogas that is 50% methane and carbon dioxide.
Here are the three major composting methods in use today.
1. Aerobic Composting
Aerobic composting uses oxygen and microorganisms that require oxygen to break down organic material and it is one of the most common composting methods in use.
The organic material must be stirred or turned on a daily basis to help ensure an even breakdown.
The process can be done naturally at home, but for larger organizations, heat is typically used to speed up the process. For corporate use, the composting process can take around 8 days.
Whereas the natural process can take between two to four weeks. It’s highly dependent on the climate and the organic material.
2. Anaerobic Composting
Anaerobic composting is the decomposition process that utilizes microorganisms that do not require oxygen. It is essentially the opposite of aerobic composting.
The end result can be very bad odors, and this is what occurs at landfills.
In terms of length, it is a much longer process if the temperature typically isn’t hot enough to break down plant matter. On larger-scale operations, heat is necessary, not just to speed up the process, but to eliminate harmful bacteria.
It’s worth noting that the end results in methane emissions, which are far more damaging than carbon.
Vermicomposting is technically a type of aerobic composting. But as it has become very mainstream in recent years, it deserves its own mention.
You essentially fill a bin up with the organic matter and add worms to break it down.
It’s extremely popular among families with kids because you are essentially feeding the worms. The end result is an odorless composting method with no bacteria or virtually any input other than adding and removing the compost.
And fun fact, for fishing enthusiasts at least, you just secured a new source of bait, as the worms will multiply.
4. Bokashi Composting
Bokashi composting is a subject of anaerobic composting, but it has very different results. To put it simply, you add your organic matter to a bin and then add a coating of Bokashi bran. Then, close the lid to prevent oxygen from entering.
Bokashi bran has microorganisms that help break up the material in a fast manner and most importantly, there is no odor. In total, the process should take around 10 days depending on the storage conditions.
One warning is that if an odor is seeping through the bin, something has gone very wrong. There are likely air pockets.
Find Composting Methods that Work for You
Composting not only helps reduce waste that you send to a landfill; it can also help you save money. For example, flowers, fruits, and vegetables do extremely well with the right amount of compost.
So, if you have a garden at home, the mixture saves on buying bags of compost or potting soil.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.