Make your own compost

 

Composting is an activity that deserves
more attention here in the Cayman Islands. Many people are disappointed in the
state of our landfill; likewise, concerned citizens have bemoaned the lack of
recycling that occurs. Composting – the biodegradation of organic waste – can
be regarded as a natural form of recycling. 

It is important to remember the adage
“one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” While organic waste may not be of
any use to a person, it still represents nutrients that can be used by plants.

Compost is
commonly used as fertilizer or to condition soil and can be useful for farmers,
landscapers, or just a spot of home gardening.  

Most
intriguing is the list of items that can be composted. Our thoughts naturally
run to leaves and trimmings from the vegetation in our yard. The unwanted bits
of fruit or vegetable from our kitchens are also compostable. And let’s not
forget coffee grounds and used tea bags! Dried eggshells can also be added to a
compost heap and finally, cardboard and clean paper. Imagine if all these items
were composted instead of piled on top of Mount Trashmore. Instead of just
bypassing the dump, they could end up as a valuable part of your garden – keep
in mind the amount of money that is spent on mulch or potting soil. 

It is important to understand that a
certain amount of oxygen and water is necessary for organic material to
decompose. Unfortunately, the material at the bottom of a landfill almost never
receives enough of either and decomposition takes years longer than it ought
to. Moreover, useful fertilizer is hardly ever reclaimed from a landfill owing
to the many adverse chemicals that may have been added. Composting would be
particularly advantageous because of the nature of our soil. While Cayman’s
soil holds a wealth of nutrients; it is thin enough that the soil is easily
depleted. As such, composting is not only environmentally responsible; it also
has the potential to ensure the sustainability of Cayman’s agricultural
efforts. 

For those
who are interested, know that composting is an easy activity that requires only
space and patience. A variety of composting systems, usually described as bins
or sometimes tumblers, are available in almost any size, and of course the
hardcore do-it-yourselfers can construct their own.  In fact, there are systems available that
turn human waste into suitable fertilizer – compost toilets.  The National Trust for the Cayman Islands is
installing one on the Mastic Trail as part of its efforts to enhance the
facilities there. 

Several cities the world over are
beginning to require the separation of compostable material from refuse – much
the same as recyclable plastics or metals are separated. Citizens are then able
to reclaim their compost to add to their gardens or farms. While this service
may be a long time coming for Cayman, concerned members of our community are
already composting – it is certain that you too can quickly and easily become
part of the solution. 
This weekly column from the National Trust for the Cayman Islands is submitted
by Paul Watler, Environmental Programmes manager designate. The National Trust
can be contacted at 749-1121 or via email at [email protected]

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