Each day we produce a great deal of organic waste from kitchen scraps not to mention the yard waste. Throughout the summer some folks feel obligated to catch and bag their lawn clippings. Bad idea. You not only remove nitrogen that you’ve probably paid for in the way of turf fertilizer, but you’re missing the opportunity to return those nutrients contained in the clippings right back into your soil. By the way, clippings contribute to less than three percent of thatch build-up. Still feel that you want to bag clippings? How about giving the landfills a break by making a composting location on your property? Don’t throw away those fall leaves. They help to make excellent compost, again, saving the landfills of unnecessary organic waste.
What is Composting?
Composting is simply a natural biological process that occurs in nature daily. Naturally occurring microorganisms, bacteria, fungi and insects break down organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings and certain kitchen scraps into a soil-like product called compost. It is a form of recycling, a natural way of returning needed nutrients to the soil.
What are the Benefits of Compost?
By utilizing compost in your lawn and plant beds, you are returning lost organic matter and nutrients to the soil that was most likely scrapped off your lot when the home was built. Compost is a rich organic soil-like material that improves the soil profile making nutrients readily useable to plants. Adding organic matter to soils improves plant growth by helping to break heavy clay soils into a better texture, by adding water and nutrient-holding capacity to sandy soils, and by adding essential nutrients to any soil. Improving your soil is the first step toward improving the health of your plants. Healthy plants help clean our air and conserve our soil. If you have a garden, a lawn, shrubs, or even planter boxes, you have a use for compost.
But, Why Hassle With Composting?
Yard waste makes up around 20 percent of all waste material in landfills. Also, bagged grass consumes far more energy by the need of large trucks hauling this unnecessary yard waste to the dump. By composting kitchen scraps and yard trimmings at your home, you are conserving not only valuable landfill space but the fuel that is used to haul it to the landfill. Home composting can reduce the volume of garbage generated by as much as 25%! Composting is practical, convenient and can be easier and less expensive than bagging these wastes and taking them to the landfill. At a minimum, you are one step closer to becoming a responsible environmentally sustainable citizen. At a maximum, your home and garden will flourish with renewed vigor with recycling the black earth gold produced through your composting efforts.
How Do I Make Compost?
Composting is easy. You can compost in your yard by saving yard trimmings (leaves, grass clippings, and garden debris) and certain kitchen and meal scraps by preparing them properly and placing them in a compost pile. Choose a place in your lawn that might not be too aesthetically unpleasing to you or neighbors. It doesn’t really matter if it is in the sun or shade, but a place that receives a little of both during the day would be ideal. Then, decide how you wish to compost. There are many different ways to prepare a compost pile, and it’s really personal preference which one you choose. The easiest method is to just make a pile of your composting materials with no formal enclosure, keeping the composting materials in a dense heap. You can also get creative and build your own recycle bin. There are numerous plans available online. Many of the home improvement stores sell premade composting bins that you might wish to purchase as well.
You can make a ton of compost at home in an area as small as four square feet. If you don’t have a backyard, you can make smaller amounts of compost in plastic garbage bags. Backyard composting not only reduces the expense of buying fertilizers for gardens, landscaping and potted plants, it reduces municipal collection and disposal costs. Since many foods can be composted, including coffee grounds and eggshells, home composting can reduce food wastes as well as yard wastes.
Tips: Buy some fishing earthworms and placing them on your compost pile to give it a head start. Cutting or shredding your composting ingredients into small pieces will help them decompose faster. Although shredding leaves is not necessary, it will shorten the time it takes for them to compost. The same is true for kitchen scraps and garden waste.
Not Everything Organic is Compostable?
Anything that was once alive will compost, but not everything belongs in a compost pile. In general, do not compost foods containing animal fats (such as meat, bones, cheese, grease and oils); plants infected with disease, invasive weeds, weeds that have gone to seed, or dog and cat feces.
What to Compost
Table scraps such as: apple cores, citrus rinds, bananas peels, avocado peels, fruits, vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee and tea grounds, nut shells.
Yard waste such as: tree bark, leaves, grass clippings, tree & shrub clippings, small stems, vines, weeds, dead annuals/perennial flowers, left over hardwood mulch, bed edgings.
What Not to Compost
Meats of any kind, bones of any kind, dairy products, diseased plants/portions, weeds that have seed heads, dog or cat feces, vegetable oils, nothing else inorganic.