June 12, 2019

44114834 - close up hand holding soil peat mossYou recycle. You use energy efficient lighting. You bring your own bags to the store. Sounds pretty good! What’s next? Maybe composting?

Composting is a fantastic way to reduce trash in the landfill, and you get a major reward, too—rich fertilizer for your flower beds and garden. It doesn’t require a significant amount of space or time to create a composting system in your kitchen or backyard. Plus, your summer harvest will thank you.

First, decide what kind of compost system you’d prefer to use. You can purchase a plastic closed bin system that’s all ready for use if you want your composted materials to not be seen or smelled (although it really shouldn’t smell if you compost properly). You can also make your own out of a large trash can. Mesh fencing can be used to create a compost pile that’s open to the air from all sides. If you build your own, don’t start too big! Waist high and just a few feet across will be adequate. There are also tumbling systems, indoor bins, worm systems and more!

Next, determine where you’re going to place your compost bin. A sunny space will turn your scraps into compost more quickly as fungi and bacteria work faster, but it will also dry out faster and may need to be sprinkled with water more often. The ideal space is one that’s out of your way, but not so far out of the way that you forget to take care of it.

You can start collecting items for your compost bin today! You should aim for a balanced amount of green and brown materials. Green materials are things like fruit and vegetable waste, eggshells, grass clippings and green leaves. Brown materials are things like sawdust, cardboard, dry leaves and dry grass clippings. Striking a balance between these two types of ingredients will keep your compost pile from smelling bad or losing its good carbon-nitrogen balance.

Compost maintenance merely consists of turning over the contents every week or two so that adequate oxygen gets to all parts of the pile. If it’s smelling bad, turn it more frequently or add more brown material. If it seems to dry fast and isn’t progressing, add some more green material. Once the contents look like soil, they can be used a few times a year in your garden or flower beds to naturally fertilize plants and produce.

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