Sunday, June 16, 2013

How to turn your food scraps into compost

(Photo credit: nancybeetoo)
Composting your food scraps is a great way to reduce waste and teach your family about living a green lifestyle. It also has the added benefit of creating nutrient rich fertilizer that can later be used for your garden or flower beds. Creating a compost pile isn't difficult, it just takes patience to get it up and established the right way. The benefits of composting are numerous, and include improved soil structure, moisture retention and plant growth. If you would like to learn how to compost using your kitchen scraps, please read on.

The first step in creating a compost pile using food scraps is to determine which items you can use and which you should throw away. Good food items and packaging materials include:
  • Fruit and veggie scraps
  • Egg shells
  • Stale bread
  • Outdated dry food mixes
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Grass clippings
  • Wood chips
  • Sawdust
  • Shred
  • Steaming compost
    (Photo credit: SuperFantastic)
  • Paper towels
  • Straw
  • Dead leaves
Items that should not be composted are:
  • Bones
  • Meat
  • Fatty foods
  • Dairy
  • Grease and oil
  • Treated wood
For the do it yourselfers, there are a number of ways you can create a compost bin or you can purchase one at your local hardware or garden supply store or online. You will want to have your bin ready to go as you collect scraps so when you have enough scraps saved up, you can immediately begin the process of composting.Make sure you place your bin somewhere sunny, because the temperature of it will need to reach approximately 140 degrees F

Once you have saved up a 50/50 blend of green (food and plant matter) and brown (paper and wood items) scraps, cut the items down to small pieces. This can be easily done with a lawnmower. Place these items in your bin and dampen with water, taking care to not saturate the mixture. Continue to add items in a 50/50 mix as you collect them, making sure to dampen the compost as you go. You will need to turn the compost every couple of days to ensure it breaks down evenly. It will probably take several months before your compost is ready to use. You will know it is ready when it looks and smells similar freshly turned earth.

Examples of collection bins:
Examples of compost bins:

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