composting myths

Composting Myths Exposed!

Composting is a natural and simple process.
So why isn’t everyone composting? Probably because they have read some of the composting myths and misconceptions about what’s involved.

If you’re a beginner at this process of recycling and reusing much of your waste and scraps, forget all those fallacies, misinformations and myths. Let’s debunk those composting myths and reveal the true story!

Myth: Composting requires a lot of work

Composting is a natural process which involves nature doing the job for you. You gather all the materials, add them to your bin in the right proportions, and let Mother Nature do her job. It is a low maintenance activity. You need to turn the compost every week or so to keep it aerated. The pile must be kept moist, but not wet. Other than this, there’s very little work involved.

Myth: Composting is only practical on farms and large lots.

On the contrary, people living in urban areas with little space can easily compost with one of the many compost bins on the market. These take up very little space, and some even allow you to tumble the compost ingredients for faster decomposition. Another technique is vermicomposting that involves the use of red worms in a contained bin. These worms digest table scraps, turning it into rich black and fertile castings.

Myth: Composting needs precise measurements

Even though composting ideally would be best achieved with the right combination of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) elements, precise measuring is not necessary. Estimates work just fine. For every time you add green components like kitchen scraps and pulled plants, add about 3 times as much brown or carbon ingredients, such as dry leaves, shredded paper or straw.

Myth: You need specially formulated chemicals as starters or activators

Forget the claims of commercially available products. Adding them to the compost pile will speed up the process of decomposition, but buying them is not necessary. Instead, add some finished compost or even a shovel of good garden soil into your newly formed compost pile and that will serve as the activator.

Myth: Animals are attracted to composting piles

To some degree this is true. Composting piles do attract the occasional cat, dog, bird or raccoon. They will likely go for open compost piles and for piles that have kitchen scraps that have not been mixed in, or if you’ve added meat byproducts.. There are many enclosed compost bins on the market that will keep out rodents.

Myth: Compost smells

Compost should not have an offensive odor if it has the right mix of ingredients. You may have too many ‘green’ components, and adding some chopped straw or dry leaves adds necessary carbon and air. If you find your compost is starting to smell, it is probably too wet. It should be about as damp as a wrung out sponge. Heavy, wet compost will rot rather than decompose, since it will not build up enough internal heat.

Myth: If I use compost, I won’t need fertilizers

A lot of beginning gardeners believe this composting myth. Compost has a lot of benefits – it helps with soil structure, retains moisture, moderates pH in the soil and provides microbes that allow plants to absorb nutrients. It has some nutrition, but unless your soil has a complete balance of minerals (which is not likely without some work), it will need amending with organic minerals.

Myth: You can’t compost meat or dairy products

These should never be added to a regular compost pile or bin. However a process known as bokashi is gaining in popularity. You need a special bokashi bucket and a starter medium that’s inoculated with beneficial anaerobic microbes. Decomposition takes place in the sealed bucket, where the contents ferment in an air-free environment.
Another way to compost meats, fish and fresh manure is to simply bury them in a deep hole. The soil has microbes that will consume them, adding minerals to the soil. Nature, after all, is the great recycler.

So there you have 8 composting myths debunked.

What are some others you’ve heard and found to be fallacies?

About the Author

Nicki is a dedicated gardener, a creative artist and a published author. Passionate about what she does, her gardening articles, books and paintings reveal her love of nature and the western Canadian scene. She loves sharing her container garden success with others to inspire their creativity.

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