Composting 101

In one of my last blogs, I talked about making your kitchen green, but failed to mention composting. That is because I felt composting deserved its own blog!

Composting is an easy way to help reduce the amount of garbage you send to landfills, plus your garden will love you! What? You don’t have a garden? Well, we will get to that later.

The first thing you need is the right container or bin. This can either be open-aired or closed. Keep in mind that the closed bins break down the material faster because they retain heat better. Some people like to have a smaller bin for fruit and vegetables. If you pick something with odor control, you can keep this on the counter, but you will want to place your bin(s) in a sunny spot.

Now, you’ve got your bin, so what do you put in it? To make compost, you need green and brown matter. Fruit scraps, vegetable scraps, dead flowers, and grass clippings all count as green matter. Shredded brown paper, coffee grounds, egg shells, dry leaves, and straw all count as brown matter. Check the packaging of some of your items – the package itself may be compostable. There are things you should avoid putting in your compost bin including citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise, eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, bread, and dairy products. To make good compost, you need three parts brown and one part green.

Mix your compost often. If it is an open-air bin outside, use a shovel. If you have an enclosed bin, you may just be able to turn a handle. You may also need to add water, but use caution. If you use too much, it will make a soggy mess. The compost should be about as moist as a wrung out wet sponge. If you have cloudy days, the decomposition may take longer. The sunnier for the bin, the better!

Once everything is ready, mix the green and brown together. Before you use it, you may want to sift through it to remove large chunks that didn’t break down. Composting can be a fun activity to do with your kids to teach them to live green.

(This image is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. See Copyright.)

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Libby Pelham

About Libby Pelham

I have always loved to write and gives me the opportunity to share my passion for writing with others. I work full-time as a web developer at UTHSC and most of my other time is spent with my son (born 2004). I love everything pop culture, but also enjoy writing about green living (it has opened my eyes to many things!) and health (got to worry about that as you get older!).