Composting 101

Why Compost?

Green waste and food waste accounts for approximately 30% of the refuse generated by the average household. Instead of ending up in the trash, green waste can easily be converted into a valuable soil amendment for your garden, resulting in more productive vegetables or flowers for your enjoyment. This conversion is known as “composting” — recycling your green waste and food waste.

Composting occurs in nature as vegetation falls to the ground and slowly decays. This process provides minerals and nutrients needed by plants. Setting up a composting system in your backyard speeds up this natural process. Organic materials like fruits, vegetables, and yard waste are collected and then decomposed with the help of oxygen, water and microorganisms.

The resulting material is called “finished compost” or “humus,” an important component of healthy soil. Humus that results from composting adds nutrients to the soil that can increase the health of your plants and help save money ordinarily spent on fertilizers.

Vermicomposting is simply using worms to compost food scraps. The best kind of worms to use is Eisenia Fetida (a.k.a “red wigglers”). These worms are incredible garbage eaters! They eat their own weight every day, so even a small bin of red worms will produce several pounds of all natural, chemical-free fertilizer to mix into potting soil or garden mulch. These worms can be easily obtained by ordering from local suppliers such as McCrawls, online from private companies by viewing here, or searching the term “red wiggler vermicompost”.

Composting Do’s and Don’ts

Stirring and lightly watering the content of your compost bin speeds up the compost process. It’s not necessary, but it will yield results sooner if you do.

DO Compost:

  • Grass and plant trimmings
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Egg shells
  • Wood chips, sawdust and ashes
  • Straw and hay
  • Shredded paper
  • Manure from herbivores (e.g. horse, rabbit, chickens) that only eat plants

DO NOT Compost:

  • Meat scraps and bones
  • Dairy products
  • Plastics or synthetic fibers
  • Diseased vegetation
  • Plants that have been treated with herbicides
  • Palm fronds
  • Charcoal or ashes from treated wood
  • Manure from carnivores (meat-eating animals)

Vermicompost Do’s and Don’ts

Keep your vermicompost bin indoors or in a shady spot in your yard. If outdoors, keep it close to a back door to make access more convenient. Check your worms to make sure their home is not too wet or dry. You can add shredded newspaper to help soak up excess moisture. Worms will eventually eat the newspaper too.

DO Vermicompost:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags

DO NOT Vermicompost:

  • Onions or garlic
  • Dairy products
  • Oily products
  • Meat or poultry
  • Nut shells
  • Grass and plant trimmings

Composting | Myth vs Fact

Myth: Compost creates odors and attracts pests.
Fact: Properly building and maintaining compost using organic waste, almost never attracts pests and will smell like a humus-rich forest.

Myth: Compost is unsightly.
Fact: Attractive, low-cost compost enclosures can be built or purchased.

Myth: Composting requires a lot of work.
Fact: Compost is a natural process. Basically, the elements of nature does the work. You can turn the material once a week or once a month. Compost just happens!