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Summer is all about the long hot days spent by the pool or at the beach with family and friends eating our weight in watermelon. With the sun beaming down on our trash full of fruit also leads to an extremely smelly trash weighed down with various decomposing fruit rinds. Waiting until the next trash day and feeling like we just have to deal with the flies and stench ruining the atmosphere isn’t the nostalgic feel we are looking for. Instead we should all consider composting!

If you have a garden composting or a create-your-own-super fertilizer is an effective and easy way to avoid the putrid trash catastrophe.  Now before you roll your eyes and immediately discredit this suggestion, hear me out.     

Benefits?

  • Soil conditioner: With compost, you are creating rich humus for lawn and garden. These proteins bind soil particles together, allowing the soil to resist compaction and increasing its ability to hold moisture and nutrients. Soil with a healthy structure is crumbly to the touch, allowing plenty of room for air, water and energy to move freely.
  • Recycles kitchen and yard waste: Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can.
  • Introduces beneficial organisms to the soil: The organic matter found in compost introduces vital nutrients to your garden, including macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and micronutrients such as manganese, copper, iron and zinc. Microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil, break down organic material for plant use and ward off plant disease.
  • Good for the environment: Composting offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.
  • Reduces landfill waste: Most landfills in North America are quickly filling up; many have already closed down. One-third of landfill waste is made up of compostable materials.

 

What to use to contain?

Bins: Compost bins are enclosed on the sides and top, and open on the bottom so they sit directly on the ground. These are common composting units for homes in residential areas where bins tend to be smaller, yet enclosed enough to discourage pests. The most efficient enclosed bin method is the compost tumbler.

Compost Tumbler Benefits:

  • Speeds up the composting process
  • Can compost year-round, due to higher internal temperature
  • Cannot be accessed by rodents, raccoons, dogs or other critters
  • Keeps compost neatly enclosed and odor-free, well-suited for residential areas

Bin Options:

Of course, everyone’s situation and preferences are different. Here are is a small sampling of 3 types of compost bin options available on Amazon:

 

What to compost?

The essential next question is what should I compost? The following list of what to compost, what not to compost and what to use caution with should give you what you need to make an educated start!

What to compost:

Materials

Carbon or Nitrogen

Details

Alfalfa meal and hay

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker

Algae, seaweed and lake moss

 Nitrogen

Good source of nutrients and minerals.

Apple pumice (cider press waste)

 Nitrogen

If dried use as a carbon

Ashes (wood, not coal)

 Neutral

Use only wood ashes since coal ashes can be toxic to plants. Use sparingly as a pest deterrent.

Banana peels

Nitrogen

Shredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker

Beverages, kitchen rinse water

 Neutral

Help keep the pile moist, but don’t overdo it.

Buckwheat straw or hulls

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker

Cardboard

 Carbon

If you have lots of this, consider recycling it. Otherwise, shred into small pieces in pile.

Cat litter (unused!)

 Carbon

Make sure it’s unused

Cocoa hulls

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker

Coffee grounds (and filters)

 Nitrogen

Great source of nitrogen and worms love coffee grounds! The filter will break down so add it too!

Cornstalks, corn cobs

 Carbon

A little tricky, so shred and/or break down and mix well into pile.

Cotton Bur

 Nitrogen

Great to use to jump start your pile or warm it up

Dog food

 Nitrogen

Best if not a meat based dog food

Dryer lint

 Carbon

Make sure you moisten it a little before you add it.

Eelgrass

 Nitrogen

If dry use as a carbon

Egg shells

 Neutral

These break down slowly, so make sure to crush these before adding.

Feathers

 Nitrogen

Slow to break down, shred if possible to speed up process

Flowers

 Nitrogen

Green use as Nitrogen, dried use as carbon

Fruit peels (not limes)

 Nitrogen

Best if you cut them up to small pieces

Grape pomace (winery waste)

 Carbon

When dried and shredded best used as a carbon

Green Grass clippings

 Nitrogen

When green can be used as a Nitrogen

Dried Grass clippings

 Carbon

Make sure they are not too wet and mix with dry leaves for best results.

Hair

 Nitrogen

Good source of nitrogen. Make sure you scatter, so it doesn’t clump.

Hay

 Nitrogen

The best kind is hay that is not suitable for livestock and is starting to decay on its own. Make sure it is dry and weathered.

Hedge Clippings

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker

Hops (brewery waste)

 Carbon

When dried and shredded best used as a carbon

Kelp (seaweed)

 Carbon

Good source of potassium (perfect for growing potatoes!). Use sparingly or sprinkle kelp meal in to get your pile cooking.

Leather (leather waste)

 Nitrogen

Shredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker

Leaves

  Carbon

Shredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker

Manure from herbivores (cow, horse, pig, sheep, chicken, rabbit)

 Nitrogen

Best if known to come from a herbivore

Newspaper

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping will help it break down quicker

Nut shells

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping will help it break down quicker

Oak leaves

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping will help it break down quicker

Oat straw

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping will help it break down quicker

Sawdust and wood shavings

 Carbon

Preferably not from kiln-dried wood

Paper

 Carbon

Shredding will help it break down quicker

Peanut hulls

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping will help it break down quicker

Peat moss

 Carbon

Also great to add to your garden soil

Pine needles and cones

 Carbon

Shredding or chopping will help it break down quicker

Tea leaves

 Carbon

Best if shredded to help it break down quicker

Vegetable peels and scraps

 Nitrogen

Kitchen scraps are a great source of nitrogen

Vetch

 Carbon

From the pea family, yup add it too

Weeds

 Carbon

Don’t add if your concerned about spreading the seeds

Wheat straw

 Carbon

Best if shredded to help it break down quicker

 

Things you should NOT compost!

Materials

Details

Ashes (coal or charcoal)

May contain materials that are toxic to plants.

Cat droppings/litter

These may contain disease organisms and should always be avoided for composting.

Colored paper

 

Dog droppings

These may contain disease organisms and should always be avoided for composting.

Lime

High alkaline pH can kill composting action.

Meat, fat, grease, oils, bones

Do not break down, can coat materials and “preserve” them, can attract pests.

Non-biodegradable materials              

 

Toxic materials

 

 

Things that MAY be composted, but only with caution and skill:

Materials

Carbon or Nitrogen            

Details

Bird droppings

Nitrogen

Some bird droppings may contain disease or weed seeds

Diseased Plants

Nitrogen

Make sure your pile gets to at least 135 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days to let it “therma kill” the disease

Milk, yogurt, cheese                   

Neutral

May attract pests, so put it in the middle to deep into the pile

Weeds

Nitrogen

For best results, dry them out until crunchy, then add them to your compost pile

Sod

Nitrogen

Like diseased plants, make sure your pile gets hot enough to make sure the grass doesn’t keep growing in your pile.

 

By | 2017-06-30T12:12:58+00:00 June 1st, 2017|Blog|