Compost your Kitchen Scraps
Save your uncooked food scraps and turn them into super-effective plant food. Reduce your garbage load… why toss all that good stuff that is nutritious for the earth into a plastic bag that ends up in a landfill? Biodegradable garbage is still just trash if it’s busy biodegrading inside a plastic bag, stuffed between a styrofoam cup and a ball of aluminum foil.
If you don’t have a garden in your yard, find a local community garden and donate your compost. They’ll love you for it (and maybe even slide you some tomatoes when they’re ripe.)
Here’s our video that outlines the composting process, followed by written step-by-step instructions. Host Elizabeth Fiend tells you what you can and can’t recycle in your compost pile and how to start one.
Composting —Nature’s Way of Recycling
A How-To written by ELIZABETH FIEND
We need to reduce the amount of garbage we create. Most household garbage is burned, which creates air pollution, or dumped into landfills which produce toxic gases. Obviously neither way is good for the environment. By composting leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps you can greatly reduce the amount of trash your household makes.
Composting is a natural form of recycling where plant matter is turned into a soil-like material that’s full of nutrients and very beneficial to your backyard soil and garden plants. Insects, earthworms, bacteria and fungi help out in the process. But it’s up to you to get it started!
Starting a Compost Pile:
1.) Begin in the kitchen by saving uncooked food scraps like carrot tops, lettuce cores and banana peels. Coffee grinds, tea bags and egg shells can also be saved. NO cooked food, meat or dairy products should be added to the compost pile.
2.) Store the scraps in a lidded container or small bucket you keep in easy reach of the cutting board.
3.) Start a pile outside: either right on the ground; in an aerated bin like a plastic laundry hamper; or buy a compost container, the best kinds have a tumbling option – but these are also the most expensive.
4.) Simply add food scraps to the pile.
5.) Mix in grass clippings and leaves when you have them.
6.) The mix that will decay most quickly is made of layers of green (food scraps) and brown (leaves). Given time, any combination of organic matter will decompose. “Turning” your pile, ie: mixing things around will also speed things up. This is the purpose of those expensive tumbler composters.
7.) As the pile rots it’s transformed into “black gold” — an organic matter that will make a great fertilizer for your garden or yard. Unless your compost is 100% totally void of any hints of food scraps or leaves, don’t work the compost into the soil as it will rob the soil of nutrients. Best to pace the compost on top of the soil where it will slowly work its way underground, nature knows what to do.
Additional tip: If you’re hardcore you can have two piles going.
I have two plastic laundry hampers in my alley, let’s call them Bin 1 and Bin 2.
• Bin 1 is for new stuff.
• Bin 2 I just let sit, filled, so that it really gets a chance to totally decompose.
• When the stuff in Bin 2 is ready I add it to my garden soil and reverse the purpose of the bins. Ie: Stop adding any material to the full bin, let it rot, and add new material to the bin you just emptied.
• Repeat and watch your household trash diminish and your garden flourish.
That’s it! You’ve done your thing for the environment AND increased the quality of your soil.
Now go lie down in your hammock and relax.
Photo: Elizabeth Fiend’s garden