I know, I know! Composting. The thing you should be doing but you don’t. It seems like such a simple thing but then browns and greens and balance and heat … But, composting can be as simple or as complex as you would like it to be.
Some people are going to have a compost bin or pile in the backyard that they monitor regularly and can’t wait to have conversations about with any unsuspecting passerby. Then, there are the individuals that are okay with digging a small hole in their flowerbed and burying their veggie scraps with as little fuss and fanfare as possible.
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), yard wastes and food scraps make up 20 to 30 percent of household wastes. Composting keeps these wastes out of landfills and is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Even if you were to throw all the results of your composting efforts into the trash, you would still be helping the planet. That’s because the decomposing process can reduce food waste by 80 percent! It can also reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from your trash. Food wastes need oxygen in order to generate carbon dioxide as opposed to methane gas. Methane is 84 percent more potent than carbon dioxide. Landfills are so tightly packed the refuse dumped there doesn’t get any oxygen.
There are a variety of ways to go about composting depending on your living situation, your needs, and your time. From backyard composting to setting up indoors, you are sure to find a type of composting that suits you. Composting tends to get the reputation of being a smelly endeavor, but if managed properly, odor shouldn’t be an issue.
Backyard Pile or Bin
This is the more traditional style of composting. You build a bin in your backyard or you start a composting pile. You monitor levels and heat, and you turn it regularly. It is important to keep your pile or bin properly aerated and to keep the right balance of carbon and nitrogen. A balanced and properly covered compost pile should not smell.
Three Bin Composting
With the three-bin system, new material is only ever added to the first bin. The waste in this bin is turned frequently and kept moist. Once the first bin in full, it is transferred to the second bin. The transferring process helps aerate the waste. No new material is added to the second bin. It is left to decompose. Once the first bin is full again, the waste in bin two is moved to bin three and the waste from bin one is moved to bin two. By the time the first bin is full the third time, the waste in the third bin should be fully composted and ready for use in your garden.
Trench composting is the easy way to compost. You simply dig a hole in your garden or yard, deposit your fruits and veggies, and bury it all. Typically, your hole or trench should be about 12 inches deep. Fill the hole with four to six inches of compostable material.
Vermicomposting is my favorite. It is a little more complicated than trench composting, but it doesn’t require all the turning and balancing that the other types do. It uses worms to turn wastes into compost. You create a bedding for your worms and feed them your food scraps. Once your bin is full, you transfer the worms to a new home and harvest the compost material. You do need to keep your worms healthy. This is fairly easy. Just feed your worms an appropriate amount of food a couple of times a week and give the fresh bedding every few months.
Composting doesn’t have to be complicated or take up a lot of your time. Whether you are satisfied with trench composting or want to compost on a larger scale, there is certainly a system that suits your needs. If you don’t have a need for compost material, consider donating it to a gardening friend or finding a community garden that might have a need for it. Happy composting!
Narrator: This blog was thoughtfully written by Amy Gravlee. You can find her on Instagram @amygrvl.