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Installing and maintaining a home composter

About half of municipal waste is organic waste from the kitchen and garden. Most of this waste, instead of being converted into an organic fertilizer (local, economic, ecological, which completes the natural cycle and becomes educational opportunity for children) for those who generate them, just at the landfill.

It is one of the most tragic consequences of the throwaway culture where waste is a lesser evil that can be controlled with an increasingly costly management of waste generation.

Composting at home can:

  • Automatically reduce the environmental impacts of transport and waste management.
  • That is the producer who use compost waste generated in their daily activities.

Key Benefits

Making compost at home is not expensive, does not require excessive space, poses no health problem and, if you follow the basic guidelines (avoid meat, fish, prepared foods, large amounts of liquid and rotten fruit, and to prevent the generation of fluid and proper ventilation of organic matter to prevent odors), offering a reward: the best possible fertilizer for the garden.

Composting is also an educational opportunity to cultivate a closer relationship between different members of a household, neighborhood community, business, school, etc.

Composting at home has several advantages:

  • One knows the excellent quality of the resulting compost.
  • This reduces the cost of transporting waste.
  • They reduce management costs and maintenance of treatment plants.
  • Increase awareness of all family members on the generation of waste.
  • Removes the use of chemicals at the local garden.

Confronting centralized treatment of organic waste, home composting ensures that the resulting product is of excellent quality: the individual himself selects which cast them into the compost material so that it prevents the final compost have heavy metals and other toxic substances and pollutants.

Composting techniques

There are several ways to make an effective home composting, which anyone can adapt to their own needs, available time, materials and money.

Composting requires little space and virtually no infrastructure. It can be composted in heaps more or less protected from the weather, depending on available space and the place of residence.

When space is scarce and highly urbanized, it is necessary to build or buy a composter to ensure good ventilation and drainage of organic matter in addition to preventing odors.


As basic material, you only need a container to collect organic waste in the kitchen, a composter, you can buy or create ourselves, and different types of utensils such as gloves or small rakes, if you prefer to turn the organic matter with a protection.

1. The container:

If it has a small garden, another container to collect dead leaves, weeds or branches is also desirable.

The container for organic waste from the kitchen can vary in size, although it is recommended to limit the capacity (3 to 6 liters) to avoid the prolonged accumulation of debris.

If we choose the vermicompostaje (composting with the use of a variety of extremely active earthworms originating from California, who eat processed daily and several times their weight in organic material, thereby accelerating the production of compost), the type most suitable container is a container or bowl with a strainer on top, so the focus remains excessive organic water before being poured into the composter.

If you opt for the vermicompostaje, you can use a conventional bucket. Protect your interior with newspaper prevents the container from getting dirty, thus reducing the maintenance required.

Regardless of the vessel design of the kitchen, it is preferable to empty at least twice a week, especially during the warmer months.

2. The composter:

Several companies develop compost to suit different conditions:

  • Gadgets for urban areas and very small, which can even be installed indoors. This is the case of Can-O-Worms, a vermicompost (worm composting) manufactured in Australia.
  • Composting compact, although more versatile, with capacities between 300 and 500 liters and materials: plastic recycle collection, polyethylene recovered, reclaimed wood or even metal.
  • Models with unique designs. A composter made of recyclable polyethylene Finland imitates the shape of a granite rock.

You only need to spend a little time to devise a proper composter. As main features:

  • The composter should be left to weather without deterioration or damage its contents after heavy rains or heatwaves.
  • The interior should be easily manageable and accessible at the top to make it possible to deposit organic debris, and these are graded from stages of decomposition, through interconnected compartments.
  • It is necessary that the container has enough insulation and resistant walls.
  • The ventilation of organic debris is crucial: the oxygenation of decomposition generates remains necessary for the generation of compost holds moisture and strong odors.
  • The container must allow the continuing evacuation of any fluid bag that can be generated within, in order to accelerate decomposition and prevent odors when the temperature is rising.

The vermicompost can be installed directly in a corner of the kitchen, and used directly as a receptacle for depositing organic waste, thereby reducing the content of the conventional trash.

Whether it is a conventional composter if we choose a vermicompost, the container should be placed in the shade.

Inside of a composter, unlike compost piles (manure) that can be chosen by the spacious suburban environments, organic debris:

  • Remain isolated from the main bad (sun, rain, wind).
  • Does not dry or dampen excessive, which accelerates the composting and avoiding any trouble.
  • Urban composters require virtually no maintenance and the decomposition process takes place between 3 and 4 times faster.

3. Tools and Accessories:

Sometimes, composting can become a relaxing and educational task, to be related to the treatment of waste we generate, pruning or gardening in general and with constant values of work and planning required in child development .

Additional tools for composting:

  • Gardening scissors for chopping organic debris easily and thus facilitate subsequent decomposition.
  • A small rake or similar tool to turn the remains regular. You can also use gloves or bare hands, unprotected, to perform the same task.
  • There are additives, called accelerators of decomposition, which contain mixtures of organic substances and microorganisms.

Menu of composting

As for the remains of the kitchen inside the house, do not offer any kind of problem:

  • Blow raw vegetables and fruit.
  • Poso coffee and tea, with the paper filter included.
  • Tea bags (to avoid depositing small metal staples).
  • Flowers, bouquets of dead flowers and the remains of plants.
  • Hair, nails.
  • Ashes from untreated wood and chips.
  • Crushed eggshells.

Orchard garden waste and recommend:

  • Remains of pruning trees, bushes and shrubs, previously sliced.
  • Mowing lawns or grass.
  • Litter.
  • Crop remains of garden vegetables.
  • Fallen fruit.

Content that can be included, although in small quantities and when they have some experience in composting:

  • Banana skins and citrus.
  • Kitchen towels and napkins and cardboard egg cartons.
  • Newsprint (no color printing) and corrugated cardboard.
  • Sawdust, whether from wood (no chipboard used).
  • Chestnut leaf litter, walnut, oak or oak.
  • Oil dressing.

The amount deposited in the composter must keep a minimum balance with the waste absorption capacity of the composter, depending on the quantities of material to add, as well as our dedication: if we add material cutting, where it turned around and proper maintenance, if employ mature compost mix or additives, and so on.

What organic waste avoided:

  • Fish, meat and bones.
  • Remnants of prepared food (pasta, soups, sauces, etc.)..
  • Large quantities of bread, cereals and similar foods.
  • Large quantities of rotten tomatoes.

Also avoid depositing non-biodegradable materials:

  • Glass, metals, plastics, etc..
  • Fried oils.
  • Chemicals of any kind.
  • Drugs.
  • Paints, enamels, synthetic oils.
  • Batteries.

Other materials and substances to be avoided and can not be composted:

  • Ashes from coal or other material other than natural wood.
  • Remains of sweeping the floor.
  • The contents of the bags from the cleaner.
  • Newsprint that is highly colored or printed form.
  • Mixed composites: diapers, tetra-pack, etc..

How to compost

To make an organic mixture that facilitates the decomposition, we must distinguish between:

  • Poor in material structure, or green potato skin and egg shells, tea and coffee grounds, remains uncooked fruit and vegetables, leaves, grass, etc..
  • Structural materials: branches, thin wood, straw, yard trimmings, etc..

By ensuring good conditions (good raw materials, air-sufficient and adequate moisture), they act with due care compost.

For ideal conditions, just follow basic rules, mixing:

  • Dry with moist material.
  • Thick material with a fine.
  • Old structures with fresh.
  • Kitchen waste with garden waste.

The addition of fresh and mature compost as well as red worms (vermicompostaje), accelerate the decomposition process.

We must avoid creating conditions that could prevent the satisfactory progress of composting:

  • Training floriduras that arise when throwing large quantities of bread, barley and other cereals, large quantities of orange peel, etc..
  • In small compost or without drainage systems (vermicompost), avoid triggering anaerobic processes of fermentation and putrefaction, by adding large quantities of tomatoes to release juices.
  • Avoid adding an excess of very wet material such as grass, leaves of lettuce, etc.. It is best left to dry before depositing it in the composter.
  • Avoid matter affecting the quality of compost and therefore its use: meat, cheese, leftover prepared meals, printed in color spend remains broom or vacuum cleaner, sprouted weeds (which could then be planted to deposit the compost on the garden).

Installing the composter

The cheaper composters are those that we can install in your own garden, in contact with the land itself, whether simple or manure piles, however, we opted to install a wooden or plastic.

In these cases, it is crucial to prepare a consistent basis to act as a drain (keep the compost has completely wet basis) and, in turn, allow air to enter and their movement inside the decaying mass and transformation.

A base with good drainage also facilitates decay organisms found in soil naturally penetrate organic matter.

1. Common composter:

Composters use a simpler structure with wooden or plastic sheets (you may use pallet remains, for example), forming a square tower with the size that fits our needs:

  • Cover the floor of the composter with a layer of chopped branches 10-20 cm or structural material.
  • Mix 2 / 3 of organic remains soft and moist (pruning of grass, flowers, pieces of kitchen) with 1 / 3 of dry bulk material (branches, etc.)..
  • Place the mixture on the structural surface and then cover with a thin layer of soil, semi-mature compost or straw. This thin layer intercepts potential odors.
  • Go fill the composter according to this same pattern: dry and wet mix remains to be covered with a thin layer of earth or straw.
  • If remains have basically cooking, place 4 fingers of debris by a 1-thick dry structural material.

2. Compost pile:

Follow the same scheme of the formation of the stack with layers of material. This should form a triangular structure and a size of 1.5 meters wide by 1 meter in height.

After depositing the remains in accordance with our needs (plenty of punch after pruning or, conversely, more dose) and deposit the material in layers, it should cover it with 1-2 cm of soil and then cover it with breathable canvas material.

It is necessary to keep the stack covered:

  • To prevent heat loss.
  • To avoid the puddle when it rains.
  • To prevent excessive drying.
  • To keep the nutrients within the cell.

3. Vermicompostaje:

Unlike other designs, the vermicompostaje requires the use of a composter something more sophisticated, which is available or being designed by oneself.

  • Purchase a starter kit with an initial number of larvae of red worms.
  • Prepare a base with peat and chopped egg shells.
  • Mix the fresh organic material of worms with the kit and let it sit for a couple of days.
  • Add fresh organic matter gradually, first in small amounts and then more often, so that the worm population grows parallel to the volume of organic waste added.
  • Finally, the population will stabilize and the process will remain active.