Did you know that 1.4 billion tons (that is about 1/3 of the global food supply) from around the world gets sent to landfills? That is enough food to feed about 2 billion people annually!
A few years ago, our kids made Rob and I this composting bucket for Christmas. A simple gift, yet one that has transformed our household. When all 6 of us lived at home, we rarely filled our trash can ½ full as Rob started a compost pile in our backyard under a tree and we also started to recycle. After our move to Broad Ripple, our compost pile has grown into 3 large areas. This has made the soil lush and full of nutrients, which has made for a very prolific garden – which has also morphed from one garden into 3 and then some, but that’s another blog. I thought I might share some helpful information in case you would like to try your green thumb out as well.
What is composting?
It is “waste disposal where organic waste decomposes naturally under oxygen-rich conditions.” Or more simplistically it is the decomposition of materials.
Where to place your composting heap?
On a level, well-drained area to allow the worms to get in and work around breaking down the “stuff”.
What to compost?
- “Green” Items (they break down more quickly): Organic foods, (fruit and vegetable scraps, grass and plant clippings, weeds that have not gone to seed yet, eggshells, coffee grinds, tea bags
- “Brown” Items (they break down more slowly): Animal manure from cows, sheep, and chickens as well as cardboard, paper, leaves, branches, sawdust, and hay.
What NOT to compost?
- Meat and dairy products including fats and oils
- Glossy paper or cardboard
- Perennial weeds
- Cat or dog poo or litter
- Plastics, glass, or metals
Things to keep in mind
- The ratio of “green” to “brown” should be about 1:1.
- Do not allow your compost to dry out – spray lightly with water.
- Regularly turning the compost aerates and speeds the composting process and reduces odor.
- Using a compost activator will result in dark, rich compost in about ½ the time.
- Compost is ready to use when it looks dark with crumbly topsoil, has a pleasant earthy odor, few recognizable materials left, and has shrunk to half the size.
- It can take up to 3 months for the composting process to be complete.
Not only does composting cut down on the amount of trash in a landfill, it also reduces the need for fertilizers, helps prevent erosion, and can help remove carbon from the atmosphere. But on a personal level, it will produce nutrient-rich soil for your gardens and flowerpots, and I can attest to the fact that my flowerbeds and our gardens are much happier, healthier, and producing more than we can eat. The best way to learn is to just start doing it-your soil and your planet will appreciate it. Just ask Rob. No, really, just ask Rob. He’d love to bend your ear about composting.