We have posted quite a bit about composting lately, and we have done that because we believe it’s so important. Valuable nutrients are being wasted by the ton in this country when folks consider everything as garbage that needs to be landfilled. This causes landfill space issues in addition to losing the nutrients being thrown away.
The breakdown of biological matter is called digestion. There are two types, aerobic (with air, better known as composting), and anaerobic (without air, used in producing biogas (methane)).
We cover methane gas production and usage (water and space heating, electrical generation and more) in other material at http://green-trust.org/freebooks/ and http://green-trust.org/products/.
In this article, we are going to concentrate on aerobic digestion, more commonly known as composting.
There are several methods for composting. Some are outdoor methods, where materials are piled, sometimes in a bin, or in a row, and nature is left to take it’s course. Some are more intentional, where the material is turned or rotated, speeding up the process.
There are indoor methods as well, including worm composting and mushroom composting.
Worm composting produces a high quality soil amendment (worm castings), a liquid fertilizer (worm tea), and of course, worms, which can be used as chicken or fish food, or sold to fishermen. The most common composting worm is Eisenia Fetida, or red worm.
Mushroom composting is another option, especially with woody yard waste, which does not normally compost well. The byproducts are mushroom compost, and of course, mushrooms, which are a healthy food crop that can be used for personal consumption or commercial resale.
The goal here is to produce high nutrient value soil amendments and fertilizer, improving the soil quality, and growing better plants without chemical additives.
Another method is grub composting. The grubs consume all the biological matter (including “uncompostables” like meat and human/pet poo), so instead of giving you compost, they give you high protein grubs, to be used as chicken or fish food. As fish and vegetable gardens (or aquaponics) do not use dirt as a growing medium (it’s a form of hydroponics), compost is not needed, but high quality fish food is.
For all the above methods, there are a variety of DIY options as well as commercial products available. We have built worm and grub bins using plastic storage tubs, barrels and buckets, compost bins using old pallets, and mushroom beds using woodchips and logs. The following links will lead you to DIY plans, as well as the packaged commercial solutions.
These topics are discussed at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IndoorGardening/
CompostMania.com is a comprehensive online destination for all things composting, encouraging people to reduce their ecological footprint and reconnect with their local ecosystem through composting, organic gardening, and promoting the Earth’s natural lifecycle.