Keep food waste out of the landfills and create healthy organic soil by starting your own compost bin. Here’s how…
Waste is a huge problem in America, and it is important to only buy what you can use, and to do your best to reduce packaging waste as well. However, when it comes to food, if you must throw something away, one of the best ways to deal with it is to compost it. By composting your food waste, you will not only help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, but you can also help build healthy soil for your garden, potted plants, or neighbors if you don’t have any plants of your own.
Compost can contain any natural organic matter that has come from nature and can be broken down by natural means such as sun, water, and soil organisms. Things such as leaves, grass, and certain food skins such as banana peels are common items that can be added to your compost bin.
Even if you live in the city or in an apartment, there are ways that you can still take advantage of composting. It’s not difficult, as nature does most of the work for you!
Below are a few tips for getting started with your own compost bin:
What to Put In Your Compost Bin
Many of the ingredients that you would naturally consider “garbage” are excellent items for composting. Most fruit and vegetable peelings and other scraps are wonderful for composting. Things such as eggshells, coffee grinds, and table top scraps are also perfect for adding to your compost bin.
Other good additions for your compost bin come in the form of leaves, grass, pine needles, and even some weeds (just avoid putting weeds that have gone to seed into your compost, or you may end up with an extra-weedy garden next year).
Shredded paper (not colored), newspaper, and cardboard can also go in a compost bin – just make sure to shred or chop them finely before adding.
How to Compost
Once you have your mix of ingredients, choose a spot where you would like to set up your compost. You do not always have to have a bin at first, but it helps to purchase or build one – especially if you live in an apartment or condo. An enclosed compost tumbler makes it easy to add materials and make compost quickly while reducing any unpleasant odors.
Starting with a thick layer of straw is a good way to aerate your compost pile naturally. After the first layer, you can alternate layers of food scraps with soil (if you have it), leaves, straw, and other materials such as tea bags and coffee grounds. Try to have a good mix of wet and dry ingredients. Many individuals also add green materials such as buckwheat or wheat grass to help their compost bin compost faster.
If you are using an enclosed bin, you may need to add a bit of water from time to time if you notice your mixture is looking dry. The general moisture level should be that of a damp sponge. Too much water and you’ll have a smelly mess. Too little, and decomposition will slow or stop.
Make sure that you place your compost bin or pile in a slightly shaded area as to not dry out in the hot summer months, but somewhere where there is ample rain. (If you’re using a bin, you may want to cover it during heavy rains to keep it from getting too wet.)
Every few days, give your compost bin a good turn to aerate it.
These are just a few starter tips that should get your compost bin up and running. Composting offers many benefits for the soil and also for the environment. Making your own compost reduces landfill waste and provides you with a source of rich, healthy soil for a bountiful vegetable garden, flower garden, or container garden!
Be sure to check out our Sustainable Gardening blog for lots more tips on composting and growing your own food!