Composting not only reduces trash in landfills, but also improves your backyard at home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), “compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow.” That means bigger produce, prettier flowers, and a healthier garden can come at no extra cost to you once you start saving your family’s scraps and turning them into “plant food.”
Follow our easy steps and you’ll be amazed at the change in your garden — and the amount of garbage you throw away will drastically drop, too.
Why should I compost?
It’s one of the most effective ways to minimize the amount of garbage your family sends to the landfill. Around 30% of what we throw away are food scraps and yard waste, says the EPA. Not only does this reduce methane gas, which is a major factor in global warming, but composting also controls trash can odor. And the biggest payoff? You’ll be left with a rich fertilizer you can use in your own garden or donate to your favorite cause.
How can I set up a composting bin or pile?
Choose an outdoor space for your compost — you need at least 3 square feet of space — and a bin. A closed bin is a good choice if you’re worried about the way your compost pile will look (or smell)! You can easily make a container, order one online (like FCMP Outdoor’s best-seller), or buy one at your local hardware or gardening store. Look for a bin that’s about 3 feet in diameter and not much taller than your waist. Use chicken wire or fencing to protect your bin from animals such as raccoons (or even the neighbor’s dog).
What can I compost?
You can add almost anything from your kitchen and garden — some surprising organic material includes egg shells, cut flowers, coffee grounds (and paper filters), old newspapers, tea and tea bags, hair (from pets and your own hair brush!), toothpicks, and even matches.
The trick is to aim for equal amounts of “green” waste and “brown” waste to keep your compost healthy. “Green” waste includes moist matter like fruits and vegetables and “brown” waste is dry matter can be items like wood shavings, dry leaves, or even old newspapers. Maintaining a balance is important is because “brown” materials are rich in carbon, feeding the organisms that break down the scraps and “green” materials supply nitrogen — key for building the cell structure of your new soil.
Your compost also needs oxygen and moisture. Without air, your pile will start to rot and smell. Moisture helps break everything down; sprinkle the compost with water every now and then, unless your scraps are wet enough on their own. With the right mixture, your compost should smell like nothing but earthy dirt.
Is there anything I can’t compost?
While they are compostable, dairy or animal products (even animal bones) will start to smell and attract pests, so toss those in your old-school garbage can. The same goes for fats, oils, and pet waste. Also, if you have a disease or insect ridden plant, don’t add it to the pile – it could contaminate your compost, making it unusable.
How long does composting take?
Over a few weeks, your food scraps will turn into soil. Turn your mixture over every week or two with a shovel or garden fork to mix it up. If you’re not seeing progress after a few weeks, add more “green” material and make sure you’re keeping the pile moist. If it’s smelly and wet, add more “brown” material and turn the compost more frequently. Also, break apart any big materials (like branches) to keep air flowing. Your compost is ready when it looks and smells like soil!
How can I use my compost?
Incorporate it into your garden beds or sprinkle it on top. Remember, compost is not a replacement for your soil, but rather acts as a natural fertilizer to nurture your soil and plants, so add it a couple of times a year for best results.
Can I compost inside my home?
Absolutely. Whether you’re in an apartment or a house without a backyard, you can set up a mini collection station right in your kitchen so you don’t have to trash food scraps. Experts from the Good Housekeeping Institute share their tips and tricks for making composting work no matter where you live:
Read more: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/advice/a23945/start-composting/