In observance of Earth Day, I want to encourage you to take up something that is both environmentally responsible and financially beneficial: composting! While not a “cooking” subject, it is something that comes (largely) from the kitchen! You can also use it in your garden to help boost a plentiful harvest of healthy fruits and veggies for your family! Win-win.
Note: I am not an expert on composting. I talked with friends and family members who have compost bins, and I had some help from Composting for Dummies. It’s written by a Master Composter. Who knew that existed? Not me until I read the book! I’ve included helpful tips and some websites to check out.
The first step is getting an actual compost bin. You can buy one or make your own.
Here’s ours. My husband used rubberized mesh rather than chicken wire to hopefully curb any sharp edges from eager children.
Once you have a bin set up, you can start to accumulate contents. I keep a sign posted on the side of our fridge that helps me remember what to put in it.
NO meat, fish, bones, dairy products, grease, oil, blood meal, or weeds
It is important to balance the carbons and nitrogens.
- dry leaves
- woody plant trimmings
- paper products
- pine needles
- kitchen scraps
- grass clippings
- leafy plant trimmings
- feathers, fur, hair
- coffee grounds
I keep a container on my counter for our scraps. It is not fancy!
There are fancier alternatives:
Then it is really just a matter of keeping it moist enough and stirring it on a regular basis (every few weeks) with a pitchfork. My climate provides enough moisture, but it would be worth investigating if you live in a particularly dry climate.
The next thing you need is patience! Decomposition takes some time, so don’t expect to have your own garden-ready compost overnight. If you have a smaller bin (no larger than 3 feet square) and enough heat generated by the decomposition, you could have something ready as quickly as 5-6 months (from fall to spring). Any larger, or with a slower rate, it could take a year or more. We started ours last June, and we probably won’t have something useable until summertime. But it’s amazing to see the process. We have piled our bin absolutely full, and then within weeks the top of the pile is 2-3 feet shorter. I’ve been told that it’s impossible to mess up a compost bin, and that even left alone it will decompose eventually. So give it a try! I’m looking forward to what we end up with. Have you tried composting? Have your own tips or recommendations? Share in the comments! Happy Earth Day!
Other helpful website:
- United States Environmental Protection Agency
- Eartheasy: Solutions for Sustainable Living
- Planet Natural