One of the most important things we teach our children is how to conserve, recycle and reuse. Earth Day (April 22) is a great excuse to celebrate our planet and check-in with conservation efforts at home. My family consistently turns off lights, does washing in the evenings, keeps the heat/AC down, uses cloth bags at the grocery store, and recycles cans/bottles/cardboard/paper. When we moved ‘up in the woods’ about a year ago and suddenly had a fenced-in backyard, I figured it was time to give composting a go.
Aside from (eventually) being able to use this rich soil in our own garden, there are a number of other composting benefits. According to psu.edu, the average U.S. household generates 650lbs of compostable materials each year. Over 60% of what we put into landfills is organic waste, such as food scraps that can be composted. That’s huge! Composting is easy, inexpensive and can help save space in garbage bins and landfills.
For Christmas this past year, my husband gave me a compost bin. Romantic? No. Good gift?Yes! This one from Lowe’s is reasonably priced and easy to put together. It ‘lives’ between our shed and fence where it’s close to our garden but far enough away from our play area. Additionally, I purchased this countertop bin to house scraps so I don’t have to run outside after every single meal. We reuse leftover plastic produce bags and take it out every day or two. We also have an aerator tool (like this one) to mix the compost every few weeks. It just takes a turn or two.
Here are the general ‘rules’ of composting. What you CAN and CAN’T put into your pile. Right click and save/print this image as a guide as you begin your composting journey. (Adding some worms also helps the decomposition process along.)
Some common concerns/hesitations about composting:
(A special thanks to some of the FCMB contributors for these questions!)
- How do I keep critters out of my compost?
There are a few keys to keeping local wildlife out of your bin. The first is to avoid all of the aforementioned items – fats, meats, oils, etc. The second is to purchase a pest-proof container like the one we bought. (Proof at right – raccoon footprints but they didn’t get in!) Note: there SHOULD be flies – stable flies, Green June beetles and Houseflies – in your compost.
- How much space does it take up? Not much at all! See the included pictures. You can even keep one in your basement!
- How much time/effort does it take? As much or as little as you want. It takes up no time when I’m throwing fruit and veggie scraps into the countertop bin instead of the other garbage bin. I’ve been pretty lax about aerating the larger container but that just means it won’t be ready for this spring/summer’s planting season. I’ll mix it more when it’s warmer out – compost tends to sit pretty idle in the winter months.
What other composting tips do you have to share?