I hate to admit this but it has been nine months since I last composted my food scraps. I think a support group for greenies who have fallen off the wagon could be a good thing! There are so many benefits of composting and I am glad I am getting my mojo back to do it again.
I stopped composting last fall when we put our house on the market and we were unable to compost in the rental we lived in for six months. But, we finally moved into our new home and the first thing I did was set up an Earth Machine so I could get back to my earth friendly ways!
Initially it was a struggle to stop composting since it had become such an ingrained family habit. The kids were all like what – you want us to throw the apple core in the garbage? Are you insane? (I was little insane back then, actually.)
But now we are unpacked and settling in and getting back into our groove. And just in time for melon and sweet corn season!
It would be hard to throw the scraps below in the garbage.
I am having to retrain the family to remember to compost their fruit and veggie scraps, occasionally reaching into the garbage and pulling out banana peels. But we’ll get there again. It feels great walking my kitchen pail out to the Earth Machine.
It feels familiar. And there isn’t much that has felt familiar since we uprooted, so this feels just right. The previous owners of our house left behind a big bag of straw, which I’ve been using for my brown matter. This autumn when the leaves fall, I’ll rake up two big garbage cans full and use those throughout the winter.
Who would have thought that composting could get a girl back to feeling her old self again? Have you fallen off the green wagon in certain areas lately?
Trust me, you can get back on when the time is right.
What Is Composting?
Composting is a type of recycling where you can take your food waste and break it down to make them food for plants. When you add compost to your gardens it can provide your plants with additional nutrients that can make them happier and healthier.
What Can Be Composted?
Typically anything that we get from the ground can be composted, including – but not limited to the following items.
- banana peels
- apple cores
- coffee grinds
- egg shells
- bush clippings
- hay and straw
Anything that is animal based like meat, fish and cheese cannot be composted. Also do not compost treated woods, ashes, manure or diseased plants as they will have a negative affect on your lawn and garden. Things like window envelopes cannot be added either due to the window not being compostable, so be sure to keep an eye out for things like that!
Benefits Of Composting
There are many great reasons to do composting and although the benefits of composting may require a bit of extra work, the rewards are well worth it as outlined in an article by the EPA.
- Composting helps alleviate the release of methane gas that happens when these compostable items wind up in the landfill. So, composting is not only good for the garden – but it also good for the environment.
- Compost can actually reduce or even eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.
- Improves water retention in soil which means less watering is needed.
- Farmers can have a better crop yield.
- Compost can have a positive effect on soil contaminated by hazardous wastes.
- Helps aid in wetlands restoration and habitat revitalization due to the ability to improve contaminated soil.
Of course the reduction in the methane admissions from keeping it out of the landfill helps the whole environment!
How To Start Composting
Composting can happen in a variety of ways, but most commonly it uses a bin where you place all of your items to be composted. Composting often takes weeks to months to happen depending on the items you compost and the temperature where you are located.
Suggestions for composting for the first time.
- Get a trash can or some type of bucket with a well fitting lid.
- Drill some holes in the sides and the bottom so air can circulate through.
- Place the bin in the driest place in your yard to prevent from getting too wet.
- Add your items for composting – which should be a layered mix of green and brown materials. (green being fruits, coffee etc and brown being newspapers, tree trimmings etc.)
- Every 10 days or so you should use a shovel or pitch fork to “stir” your compost pile to let the contents be aerated and small amounts of water should be added to keep it mildly moist.
- Once you see your compost turn into a deep brown soil – it is ready to use in your garden or yard.
During this process you want to keep an eye out for bugs or worms which you do not want. Also, the compost should not have any strong smells, if it does you may need to turn it a bit more to let the oxygen get through it thoroughly.
If you live in an apartment there are still options as well for composting! You can look for local drop sites – so you can store compostable items and then drop them at a community compost location. You can also check with your trash company to see if they have a special compost pickup.
Ways To Compost
Worms need a bit of love and attention to thrive, but if you do it correctly you can keep a worm bin inside your home, with no mess or stink.
A bit more expensive, but works really fast because the tumbling motion mixes everything up really good.
These you bury half-way in the ground and add food and yard debris. Some composting systems claim you can also include meat scraps and dairy. I would be afraid that the local rat population would set up camp in my backyard, but maybe it really works.
The Nature Mill indoor composter lives in your house, but it doesn’t have worms! You can add up to 120 pounds of food scraps (including meat and dairy). It mixes, heats, and aerates — doing all the work of a backyard composter in record time. Within two weeks, you have beautiful compost. It uses two chambers so you can add to the mix at any time. It uses a small amount of electricity, and it’s spendy (about $300).
You’ll also need a kitchen container to hold your food scraps until it’s time to dump them in your composter. I got my stainless steel container with carbon filters from Sur la Table. It’s also available at Amazon. Gardener’s Supply also sells several varieties. We used a big plastic Rubbermaid container for a long time that worked really well, but it was just hard for the kids to get the lid on and off.
Care to share your composting stories? Which method works for you? Did you try one that didn’t work?
Composting is a great way to be environmentally friendly and still do good things for your yard. Time consuming and kind of gross, a little bit – but the benefits of composting are worth it.
Have you jumped on the composting bandwagon? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?