Composting, an environmentally-friendly and economical solution to recycle your waste!

Composting is a means of recycling that allows for the quantity of waste produced by households to be reduced by a third. Composting produces an excellent soil conditioner used for planting crops.

What is composting? 

This natural process transforms organic matter into a soil-like product called compost, which then becomes humus in the earth. This process comes from the fermentation of biodegradable waste in contact with microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) and oxygen. 
Bacteria and fungi need to be in close contact with both carbon-rich and dry waste: C and other wet nitrogen-rich waste: N, all in a well-ventilated atmosphere and at a relatively high temperature ranging from 30°C to 60°C. 
The proportion of carbon-rich composting material to nitrogen-rich compost will be critical in terms of the quality and speed with which your compost will be made. Link to the other article. 
Once decomposed, organic matter is transformed into simple elements that can be absorbed by plants, and it will continue to break down in the ground until it ultimately becomes humus. Humus plays a critical role in soil fertility, making composting a vital component in any natural garden. 

What can be composted? 

Any organic matter can be composted: 
Leaves, grass clippings, disease-free plants, weeds (without ripe seeds), old potting soil, soft plant stems and hard stems that have been crushed beforehand.  

  • Fruit or vegetable waste, 
  • Egg shells (crushed), 
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds (with filters), 
  • Torn up paper and non-printed cardboard, etc.

The following should not be composted: 
Polluted waste, diseased plants, "weeds" when in seed, cedar or conifer waste (or only in small proportions), chemically-treated wood chips, printed paper and cardboard (unless the inks allow for this), fatty products, leftover meat, fish, cheese, walnut and hazelnut shells, kernels, human waste, plastic, metal, or glass.

Where should your compost or composting area be placed? 

Set up the composting system in a shady place in a warm area with low exposure to prevailing winds, flat on the ground (to make it accessible to microorganisms, earthworms and insects) and with enough space around it to store waste ready to be composted and to allow for easy aeration of the heap.

The different types of compost 

Compost in heaps, suitable for large gardens. 

The bigger the heap, the higher its temperature will be.
It will have to be at least 1m3 to 2m3, and it should be piled into a heap in rainy areas, but laid flat in dry areas, and always remain in direct contact with the ground. 
Compost heaps require less monitoring and work than a compost silo, but it will take longer for them to produce mature compost (8 to 12 months). There is the risk of dogs and cats going to scratch in the heap to find kitchen scraps. Compost heaps can sometimes also look rather ugly which may annoy your neighbours.

Composting silos for small to medium-sized gardens. 

The ideal is to have two compost bins so you always have one that’s usable and another for storing compost at the end of the maturation cycle, bearing in mind that one composter will serve a 300m² garden.

You should choose designs with larger openings at the top to make it easier to mix with a fork. Many different models are commercially available, and don't hesitate to go for the bigger ones with larger openings making it easier to mix and aerate the contents.
Composters reduce the consequences of the vagaries of the weather, as a result of which the composting process is accelerated: 4 to 5 months, but no matter what efforts you make, composting naturally takes place more quickly in spring and summer.
The lack of light and humidity in a compost silo creates a favourable environment for microorganisms and red worms to thrive in.

For more information: The golden rules for making good compost (see other articles)