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Your garden... how to compost
compost pile

Fast & Easy Info

  • Composting is Nature's way of turning waste into organic gold.
  • Through good old-fashioned biological processes, composting converts kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other organic matter into rich and crumbly, soil-like material that attracts healthy worms, fights disease and improves the fertility of the soil.
  • Composting saves money by reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Composting could save communities money, too. Yard trimmings and food waste together constitute 23 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of garbage to send to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead!

Dollars & Sense Options

  • Organic Gardening magazine offers these clear, step-by-step directions on how to compost.
  • If you don't want to compost outside, you can set up a worm bin and compost indoors. Here's how.
  • If you don't want to compost kitchen waste, you can still compost yard debris. Leaves, garden trimmings, cut grass, and twigs and branches can all be composted in a pile in your backyard and turned into rich humus for your garden or landscape.

For Your Shopping List:

    compost pile
    Gardener's Supply sells composting bins, pails and "worm bin factories." My experience is that you don't need anything fancy. An inexpensive pail with a lid that contains your kitchen scraps is perfectly adequate. A composting bin is nice to keep the pile contained, but not really necessary if you don't care if your pile is a little messy.
  • Envirocycle Composter from Planet Natural is another, slightly more expensive option.
  • Eco-Products' MaxAir Kitchen Composter fits under the sink. When it's full, take out the biodegradable liner that's been catching all your food waste and toss the whole thing in your outdoor compost bin. Also, look here.
  • The Worm-A-Way Composting Kit includes the book Worms Eat My Garbage.

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In My House

For years, we composted all our kitchen waste (except for meat and fish scraps). It was just as easy to scrape the dishes into a composting bucket as into the garbage disposal. Every couple of days, we'd carry the bucket out to our compost bin. We used one of those bins that spins on an axle to keep the air circulating so the material will decompose. We composted about ten months of the year, taking a break during the winter when it was cold outside and we figured we should stop adding to the bin for a little while. In the spring, we were always amazed. Though we had thrown ten months' worth of kitchen waste into the bin, it had decomposed into only about a wheelbarrow full of rich organic material. What a great and economical addition for the garden! We had to give up composting for a while because our next door neighbor kept feeding the raccoons, and eventually they discovered our compost! Now that our neighbor has moved on, we can start composting again.

(I tried worm composting for a few months, but I wasn't very attentive.all my poor little worms died.)

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What Else?

Because kitchen waste is often so wet, you need to add a lot of dry material - like leaves, grass clippings, or other yard debris - to the pile to keep it from rotting and smelling. You also need to turn it regularly to make sure enough oxygen gets to it so the material will decompose.

Want to Know More? Check out this complete Compost Guide.

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Your Garden links...

How to Compost
Organic Gardening
Native Plants