Composting is the earth’s way to recycle nutrients from food scraps to create food for plants. In the cycle of life, nutrients keep us going. Starting a backyard compost pile or a worm bin is easy to do, no matter where you live. If you’re like us and need a little extra motivation to start one, here are three reasons to begin composting today:
- Your trash will smell better. Putting food scraps in a small, airtight and sealable container on your counter means they will not go into your trash to create that stinky trash-juice smell we notice as the weather warms up.
- Composting reduces food waste. By composting food scraps you are rescuing food nutrients from being wasted. Putting food in our landfills is both bad for the environment and wasteful in a world where food insecurity and starvation occur on a daily basis.
- Your garden will be beautiful (and save you $$). Putting compost in your backyard garden will help plants grow healthy and strong and full of delicious nutrients.
How to compost in a small space: the worm bin
Not everyone has a big backyard or building to start a compost pile (those who do, keep reading). If you would prefer to start composting indoors or keep your compost bin in a small space like a balcony or small porch, a worm bin may be for you. A worm bin takes very little care, is compact and will produce compost in a few weeks.
- Procure a plastic storage bin, drill holes in the bottom of the bin, and set the bin in a deep tray.
- Line the bin with nylon mesh, and cover in damp shredded newspaper.
- Add worms. You can buy worms for a compost bin at most garden stores, or online.
- Feed the worm’s food scraps.
- Remember- never feed your compost meat, dairy, fat or oil.
For more detail, check out this site.
How to compost in the backyard:
The cold compost pile
A cold compost pile takes very little maintenance, but could take up to a year to produce compost for the garden. Cold composting is easily done in three steps:
- Select a spot in the yard that is out of the way. Begin to pile yard waste here.
- Add food scraps (never meat, oils, fats, or dairy), layering with brown and green yard trimmings like grass.
- Harvest compost every year from the bottom of the pile.
The hot compost pile
Hot composting requires a little bit of maintenance every day, but means you can have finished compost for your garden in a matter of weeks. Hot compost piles reach 110 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and will kill off and weeds or diseases found in the pile.
- Set up a compost bin in your garden. For resources on how to make a compost bin check out this site.
- Feed your composter with a ratio of 2 inch thick layers of brown and green items. Branches, shredded cardboard, and grass clippings make excellent compost.
- Water your compost every few days.
- Over turn your compost once a week, or when the compost reaches 130 F.
Adding compost to your garden will improve the water retention and health of plants. Composting at home will also reduce food waste, and improve our environment. It can be done fairly simply, and on a small scale, or it can be done on a large scale with more effort. Many cities have started developing curbside composting programs.