I discovered composting rather late in life—but it's never too late to start or, if you get lazy, start up again! Here are tips on how to compost.
Composting is a natural process that allows micro-organisms to break down live matter and turn it back into plant food to keep the cycle of life going.
Growing up, my family used to spend hours raking leaves into those giant heavy-duty trash bags that take hundreds of years to biodegrade!
What do you compost?
Most anything organic. This includes:
Grass clippings, dead leaves, weeds, flower cuttings, straw (not hay), pruned material, fruits, vegetables, grains, and even coffee grounds.
Avoid meat scraps, diseased plants, weeds that set seed, and woody material that takes too long to decompose.
How do you compost?
I've been following the advice from my local CSA farm—it's been a fun and educational project about the cycle of life!
- Just keep a five-gallon bucket outside your kitchen door and throw your food scraps in there.
- Dump the bucket once a week into a compost pile. My pile is about 10 feet from my house and my neighbors' so that odors don't become an issue.
- For kitchen scraps, you may want to bury in the center of the pile to deter animals.
- Add any of the organic matter mentioned above; for best results, have a balance of 1 part green, nitrogen-rich materials (veggie scraps, fresh lawn clippings, animal manures) to 4 parts brown, carbon-rich materials (hay, leaves, paper).
When you have a pretty good pile going, you can either turn the pile with a shovel to speed decomposition, or just leave to decompose for a year. I take the lazy approach and leave it!
Enjoy your own nutrient-rich compost. Use as mulch, in potting soil, and for planting!
In the next decade, we'll probably see composting become as common as recycling aluminum cans. Many states in the U.S. have mandates to drastically reduce the volume of waste being sent to landfills. With yard and kitchen waste making up about 30% of the waste stream, composting could make a big difference for the environment and the economy.
If you have any thoughts on composting, please share! Just submit your comment in the box below.