If you're new to home composting then this post is for you!
One of my new year intentions is to continue my sustainable efforts at home. Because I love to cook and garden, I thought composting would be a great way to start!
What is composting?
Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. Anything that grows decomposes eventually; composting simply speeds up the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms (such as worms, sowbugs, and nematodes) to do their work. The resulting decomposed matter, which often ends up looking like fertile garden soil, is called compost. Fondly referred to by farmers as “black gold,” compost is rich in nutrients and can be used for gardening, horticulture, and agriculture. (source)
What are the environmental benefits?
Recycling food and other organic waste into compost provides a range of environmental benefits, including improving soil health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, recycling nutrients, and mitigating the impact of droughts. (source)
How to compost
There is some science behind getting the best results from your compost, but I'm going to keep it simple here. You need a good balance of brown, green and in between. Think veggie & fruit peelings, coffee grounds and filter, nut shells, leaves, fruit pits & seeds etc. Avoid dairy products, meat or bones.
The compost bin
In my home, I have a closed bin compost outside that is about 3 cubic feet. It is under a shady and dry part of my backyard. You can buy online or at your local gardening store, or you can make a DIY one out of wine crates, plastic storage bins, old wooden dresser drawers, old garbage cans and wood pallets.
In order to avoid running out to my big compost bin for every kitchen scrap, I recently made a smaller compost bin for my kitchen that I dump into my bigger bin on a bi-weekly basis. This blog post will show you how to make a small DIY compost bin for your kitchen. It's super easy & affordable to make!
DIY compost bin
First, find a small bin or pail with a lid that won't take up too much space in your kitchen. I decided to use this small bin that was originally for dishwasher tablets.
Next, puncture holes on the lid of your bin/ pail so that the scraps are getting some air. I used a drill but you could use anything sharp to puncture holes.
The final step for the compost bin is to get a charcoal filter to ensure your kitchen and house are odor-free. This will allow you to store the food scraps in your kitchen until you're ready to throw them into your bigger compost pile. They're super affordable - you can get a 2 pack here for $3.99. I had to modify it to fit on the underbelly of the lid. I cut two of the sides and then glued it on the inside of the lid. See below for photo.
Voila! You are ready to start composting in your kitchen! It feels great to use your own discarded waste to create a nutrient-rich soil that you can use in your garden. Even this tiny effort make a big difference over years. Your plants (and the earth) thank you!
For more detailed information on composting, check out this article by the National Resources Defense Council.