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Composting 101

“Composting is one of the most important individual and collective actions humanity can take to rebuild our soils, grow more nutritious food, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” --Kiss the Ground

Anyone else really, really dislike food waste? And want to help the Earth? And grow more nutrient-dense food? One relatively simple thing we can do to help this is compost at home. It doesn't cost much and is super beneficial for so many reasons. Composting is also amazing for soil health and in turn, our health.

What is compost?

Compost is essentially just decayed organic matter. “Organic matter” in this case can be a range of things from leaves, twigs, banana peels, food scraps (with limitations), etc. When this organic matter breaks down it becomes a really nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden and plants. Composting is easy to start, relatively easy to maintain and inexpensive-- it just takes a little knowledge.

Why compost?

“When the food in your trash goes to a landfill, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Composting is a way to minimize those methane emissions, but it does a lot more than that. Because compost is used as a fertilizer, it reduces the need for chemical options, which can be harsh on the earth.”

--Green Matters

Also, see the first quote!

How to compost?

Here are the basics...

  1. You’ll want either a bin or a space in your yard to make a pile. The size of your bin or pile will vary depending on your garden space and needs. You’ll also want a smaller container in your house to collect food scraps, that you can empty periodically into the larger bin or pile. If you live in a city and have limited yard space, you can still compost! Many cities and farmers markets have a compost collection day, and make it easy to just bring your container and drop off your compost! Do a little research into what options are available in your city.

  2. Collect your green, brown and other organic materials. Brown materials-- such as sawdust, trimmings from your yard, and newspaper-- add carbon to your compost pile and keep it more aerobic which is good! Green materials are generally more wet, and include your food scraps. It’s generally better to add more brown than green.

  3. You will have to add water to your compost periodically to keep it moist, but not wet. If it’s dry out, you’ll obviously have to add more water than if it’s cool and rainy out. If you have an uncovered pile of compost, you may want to cover it with a tarp to keep the moisture in.

  4. Roughly every other week you’ll have to turn your compost pile with a shovel, this will allow it to aerate and it speeds up the decomposition process. Some bins on the market allow for easy “turning”, and make it a lot less laborious.

  5. Your compost will be ready to be used as fertilizer when it’s dark, soft and resembles soil. This may take anywhere from weeks to months. It’s great to work into your garden soil a few weeks prior to planting, but can also be used as mulch, used on lawns, and generally used around any plants anytime in the spring and fall. It can also be used as potting soil if you have indoor plants.

What to compost

  • Kitchen scraps-- produce trimmings, vegetable and fruit skins, leaves and roots from produce, peels, etc.

  • Coffee grounds

  • Tea bags (without staples)

  • Dead leaves

  • Yard trimmings

  • Garden waste

  • Straw and sawdust

  • Grass clippings

What not to compost

  • Meat and animal bones

  • Larger, thicker branches from your yard

  • Anything treated with chemicals

  • Weed seeds + roots

  • Leftovers that aren't plant material

  • Diseased plant material

I’d love to hear from you all-- do you already compost? Is this something you'd like to implement? Have any more pointers to add?




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