We're going back to basics! Composting basics, that is! Did you know that organics compose more than half of the waste that ends up in landfills? And once in the landfill, it decomposes without oxygen (anaerobically), creating methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas, and I don't think I need to tell you that those gases a B.A.D.
Here's the thing, composting is SO easy, and we can save all those organic materials from entering the landfill and producing methane gas. Ok, maybe not ALL, but we gotta start somewhere.
First, organics are your kitchen food scraps and yard waste. There is more to it than that, which I will get to in a minute. But first, I want to show you how easy it is to compost.
We've been composting for a year and a half. We started out with just a shovel. I kid you not, that is all we really needed! We just wanted to prevent those food scraps from going in our trash, and weren't so much interested in making fertilizer.
At first, we just had an old ice cream tub to collect our food scraps in the kitchen. Then last Christmas my parents gave us this kitchen food scrap container. It's really large, maybe a little too large, cuz we don't need to empty it very often, and stuff starts getting yucky inside.
So once it's full, or whenever we feel like it, we go to our back yard, dig a hole (we always go to the same stop), dump the food scraps in, cover it, and that's it! See, nothing fancy!
It just looks like freshly dug soil.
The soil does the rest of the job. To actually decompose the organics. They do get a little help from these guys: worms! See how big they are? That's cuz they love our compost :) There are SO MANY in the hole, they really are attracted to the scraps.
This is what it looks like once it's had 2 weeks to decompose, and after turning the soil:
Barely anything left! The arrow points to a piece of pepper that was not completely decomposed that I found in there. But really, about 80-90% of it was decomposed. And it's not even magic! Haha!
And composting done right will not attract any pests! Which is why we always cover the fresh food scraps we put in the hole, just in case.
But back to my compost container. I try to always line it with a piece of newspaper, so it doesn't get so yucky so quickly.
The first thing I put in it this time was:
Coffee grounds! WITH the coffee filter! Yup, coffee filters is organic and decomposes really quick.
Here's a list of things you can compost:
~ Food scraps: leftovers gone bad, fruit and veggie scraps, bread, rice, etc
~ Yard waste: leaves, branches, plants, grass
~ Eggshells (though they take really long to decompose from my experience!)
~ nut shells
~ non colored paper, newspaper, cardboard (actually really good to add even; decomposes faster if shredded)
~ paper towels! (though not the ones you use to clean with chemical cleaners)
~ coffee grounds, tea bags
~ CLEAN kitty litter
~ dog, cat, bird, etc food
~ saw dust and wood shavings
~ dryer lint
May be added but use caution:
~ milk products, including cheese and yogourt (be sure to put in the middle of the pile so it doesn't attract pests)
~ deseased plants (ok if pile gets to 135 degrees F...)
And what you shouldn't put in the compost:
~ meat, fat, fish, oil, bones; these are the things that will attract pests, too
~ leftover salad with dressing (which contains oils)
~ cat litter, dog poo
~ charcoal ashes
~ nonbiodegradable materials
~ toxic waste
For a more complete guide, check out this article from Earth911.com.
I'm sure you're thinking now that you CAN start composting, it looks so easy! Right?! But you may be turned off by my compost in a hole idea, I know I'm getting tired of it. So here are other nicer options for a composting bin. Evaluate how much you think you're going to put into the compost bin, and get one/ make one accordingly (how much yard waste, how much food based on your family, etc).
Oh and, you'll want it on the ground or grass, not cement.
First up, and easy to build compost made out of chicken wire or hardware cloth and pressure-treated 2x4s, from Birds and Blooms.
I want to build something similar to that (above), but I've got no corner to put it in... Still trying to find a solution though. I really like that idea because it leaves a lot of aeration room, which is really great for faster decomposition.
I think that is the mother of all composting bins! 3 compartments, netting around 3 sides for good aeration, removable slat front to collect the compost when it's done, and to hide it a bit. Only thing is the plans are no longer available :( But if you're crafty I'm sure you can figure out a way to make something similar ;)
Or else there's a very similar one on Lowe's website, with plans. Though I would really make one without a paneled bottom.
Option 3: all wooden paneled
Hides more the compost, but less aeration.
Option 4: Tumblers
130$ at Clean Air Gardening, or here's a DIY version, but I can't take the pictures from the site...
Option 5: Garbage can turned compost bin
Instructions for this one, if you need them, at The Happy Housewife.
Here's a great article to help you troubleshoot your compost pile, if it's not working as well as you'd hope.
If you're not satisfied with the options I've provided here, turn to Pinterest. But whatever you do, just start composting!
I party at these parties.