Composting is the nature’s way of recycling organic waste into useful soil-like material called humus or compost. Organic materials such as grass clippings, leaves, yard trimmings, food scraps and non-recyclable paper products can be can be composted at home in compost bins, piles, or worm bins.
- Cold Composting – is a slow method of decomposing organic waste either on the ground or in a bin. This method of composting requires no maintenance, but will take several months to a year or more for the pile to decompose.
- Hot Composting – is a faster way to decompose organic matter. This type of composting requires more work with few minutes a day and the appropriate ingredients you can have a finished compost in few weeks depending on weather conditions.
- Vermi-Composting – this type of composting method uses worms, oxygen and moisture to decompose organic matter thus taking up very little space and can be done throughout the year.
- Backyard Composting – A composting that can be done by residents and other small-quantity organic waste generators on their personal property.
- Aerated (Turned) Windrow Composting - organic waste are place into long piles called windrows and are aerated manually or mechanically. Suitable for community or large food processing composting. Might be subject to regulation because of leachate coming from the pile.
- Aerated Static Pile Composting – Organic waste is mixed together in one large pile instead of rows. Suitable for community and food processing company composting.
- In-Vessel Composting – organic waste are place inside a drum, silo, concrete-line trench and is allow to rot. This type of composting accommodates virtually any type of organic waste. Suitable for school, restaurants.
- Aerobic Composting – with aerobic composting, oxygen/air is introduced to help in the decomposition or organic waste. Aerobic composting works quickly but requires high maintenance, as the temperature and moisture needs close monitoring.
- Anaerobic Composting – This is the opposite of aerobic composting. This type of composting happens in the absence or oxygen/air and typically happens in landfills. During anaerobic composting, organic materials are piled up and break down naturally. This process does not require any type of maintenance.
Siting Your Compost Area
Before thinking of the area to place your compost bin, select the type of compost bin or system you plan to use. You can find plans for making a compost bin on internet or sites that sell manufactured bins. A compost bin should be located in an easy to access location with enough space for bins, stockpile material, wheelbarrow, tool etc. Here are tips on placing your compost system.
- Compost bin must have enough air circulation.
- Place compost bin out of full sun rays, place bin in a partially shaded location. This prevents excessive heat build-up in plastic bin. Also, placing compost bin under full shade will cool the bin too much or too soon in spring and fall.
- Place bin on bare ground.
- Compost bin should be placed away from trees and pesky vines to prevent loss of nutrient from your compost. The roots and vine of tree might tend to absorb nutrients from the compost.
- Place compost bin away from wooden structures because the susceptible to rot, therefore should not be placed close to decomposing matter.
Basic Elements for Composting
- Browns – Includes dead leaves, twigs, small branches etc. Brown Materials provide carbon for your compost.
- Greens – Includes grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, coffee grounds etc. Green Material provide nitrogen for your compost.
- Moisture – Water! Water provide moisture to help breakdown organic matter. Having the right
amount of water, greens, and browns is a very important part of the composting process.
Air/Oxygen and temperature
- Bio-degraders – They are soil organisms that help to break down organic waste. Example include; worms, mold, and other soil organisms. These organisms are Amy of workers provided by nature, they are specialize in decomposition. The process of composting create a conducive environment for the organisms through the provision of water, air and moisture.
What can be composted?
- Yard waste such as grass clippings, leaves, twigs and excess vegetation
- Food scraps without fat
- Twigs or chipped branches, hay and straw
- Coffee grounds and filters, tea leaves
- Cardboard, clean paper, shredded newspaper, egg shell, cotton rag
What cannot be composted?
- Large branches
- Fatty foods and grease, meats, dairy products and fish
- Synthetic products such as plastics
- Diseased plants
- Weeds and vegetables that produces abundant seeds
- Pet and human waste
- Coal and charcoal ash
List of tools for Composting
- Digging fork with metal tines and reinforced handle
- Watering can or hose
- Container or buckets
- Flat shovel or tapered spade
Benefits of Compost
- Compost reduces the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill thus reduces landfill space.
- Improves soil health and fertility
- Help regenerate poor soil
- Increases the nutrient content of soils
- Improve crop yield
- Reduces the need for fertilizer and pesticide application
- Prevents and controls soil erosion
- Suppresses plant disease and pest and encourages healthy root systems
- Improves soil porosity and moisture retention
Using Finished Compost – A good finished compost has a rich earthy smell, crumbly-texture and dark brown or black in nature. Finished compost can be used in soil amendment, mulch, storm water management, and use to cover freshly planted seeds.
Troubleshooting Composting Problems
- Smell – if your compost has bad odor, there is a tendency that it is too wet or not enough air (oxygen) or too much nitrogen. This problem can be solved by aerating the pile, mix in leaves, straw, sawdust or wood chips.
- Pile Not Heating up – maybe the pile is too small, too dry, or has less nitrogen present. The solution to this problem include; making pile larger, provide insulation, add water and aerate, and increase carbon source.
- Rodent and Other animal attracted to pile – This happens when food scraps are not well covered or as a result of the presence of meat or dairy products. However, the solution can be; covering food with brown leaves, wood chips or finished compost, keep meat and dairy waste out of pile and enclose pile in 1/4in hardware cloth.
- Damp Pile with no Heating Up – nitrogen is not enough in this case. Therefore, mix pile with grass clippings, food scraps, and other nitrogen source materials.
- Dry pile – This happens as a result of less moisture content of the pile or too much air flow. The solution will be adding water and mixing well as well as covering loosely with trap or landscape fabric to hold or maintain the moisture content of the pile.
- Pile damp and warm in the Middle and nowhere else – this happens when pile is too small. Therefore, add more materials and moisten.
Compost Operation in Oklahoma
To operate a compost facility in Oklahoma, one has to obtain a compost permit from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry (ODAFF). However, the following facilities are exempted from the requirement to obtain an ODAFF compost permit.
- Composting Operations that are located on a facility permitted or licensed as a concentrated animal feeding operation or a registered poultry feeding operation
- Compost operations that are being used to produce a composted product solely for personal use and not for commercial purposes
- Compost operations that are permitted or required to be permitted by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
For more information of compost application, regulations and compost facility act for the state of Oklahoma, please visit the following links.
Links to Composting Programs and Facilities in Oklahoma
- Fertile Ground Cooperative
- Minick Materials Compost
- Backyard Boss
- Compost bin sale (Metropolitan Environmental Trust)
- Full Sun Composting
- Worm Farming Revealed (Buy Worms)
- Urban Worm Compost
- Oklahoma Composting Council
- Oklahoma Compost Conference
- Composting Everything (Tulsa)
- Organic OKC
- The Met (Tulsa)