This week is International Compost Awareness Week, sponsored by the US Composting Council. It's an opportunity to educate about the benefits of composting.
Last spring we began composting again in earnest. We got a little smarter about it and realized that our previous attempts didn't contain all the right ingredients.
A compost pile needs brown materials that are high in carbon: ashes, wood, bark, shredded cardboard, fruit waste, leaves, peanut shells, peat moss, pine needles, sawdust, straw, vegetable stalks.
The compost pile also needs green materials that are high in nitrogen: clover, coffee grounds, food waste, garden waste, grass clippings, hay, hedge clippings, manures, seaweed, vegetable scraps, weeds without seeds.
Remember, compost needs both green materials and brown materials.
Since we began composting, I've noticed that I rarely use the garbage disposal in my kitchen. I have a small bucket on the counter where I save all the kitchen scraps such as fruits and veggie trimmings, tea bags, and egg shells. Also, I've noticed that composting has reduced the amount of garbage that goes to the curb on garbage days.
We have three compost bins. One is for the current collection pile. We add scraps to it daily and turn it over on the weekends, usually by hauling out much of it on a tarp and putting it back in the bin. The second pile has been retired and is gently decomposing. That one gets turned less frequently. The third bin is compost ready to be sifted and put to good use.
Compost bins at the garden center can be pricey, but it's easy to get creative. Old pallets make a good bin, or any other scrap lumber. We've got our eyes on a pile of discarded deck railing down the street which will expand and improve our current system.
If you live in an apartment or small home, you can try worm composting. The worms will help percolate your small pile of scraps and turn it into wonderful fertilizer for your container plants.
Please do your part to reduce, reuse and recyle. Composting is easy!