Composting, Part 1

One really great way to reduce what you send to the landfill is to compost your food waste. Even if you don’t have a lot of space or need for composting, you should look to see what your city might offer or if you have friends that could use compost. If nothing else, you can put it on house plants. The reason that composting is so important is because people produce a lot of food waste. This gets sent to landfills and just sits. It doesn’t decompose well and it releases methane gas when it does. This doesn’t happen when you compost. Instead, you get something healthy and natural for your garden while reducing greenhouse gases and the need for space for landfills. And homemade compost is free, so you save money that would be spent on store bought compost, fertilizer, and growing medium.

What exactly does compost do for your garden? Everything! It promotes healthy soil by adding microorganisms essential to soil health, protecting plants from extreme pH levels, opening up the soil, and reducing the need for water. It reduces the need for store bought fertilizers and pesticides. Digging is easier. Carbon is locked into the soil, reducing CO2 emissions.

The Lazy Man’s Lazy Man Composting
The form of composting I am most familiar with is the laziest form possible. A couple of cons are that you need a lot of space and the compost doesn’t turn out great. But the extent of the work is bringing food and yard waste to the pile. This is the method Will’s family uses. They compost their yard and food waste separately. The yard waste produces compost about every other year, while their food waste bin takes 5-6 years to fill, and they don’t touch it during that time, so they don’t get compost from it very often (but it’s a lot when they do!). They also have a separate pile for woody waste. Traditional composting methods have you layer all of these wastes together, which will produce a better compost.

View of Will’s compost piles

The reason this food waste bin takes so long to fill is because after they fill it in the winter, it composts down in the summer. While they could start a new pile every spring, they would only get small amounts of compost at a time. This is why you would normally mix yard waste as well as woody waste in with the food waste. The below picture is from right after we dumped a ton of pear pulp. Right after this we actually added some woody waste balance that.

Food waste bin, having been filled for 1-2 years

As far as collection, Will’s family keeps a small bucket under the sink that they drop their waste in, mostly vegetable waste, egg shells, and tea leaves. When it’s full, they walk it up to their compost bin. Even in the winter!

Compost Collection Bucket

As I said, this method requires a lot of space because once they fill the food waste bin or decide the yard waste pile is large enough, they have to move to a different location to let the old pile decompose. They live on an acre of land and the area they compost in is surrounded by trees, so it doesn’t bother anyone.

While this method helped me get an introduction to composting, it is not ideal, since it doesn’t produce the best compost. If you have the space and don’t want to put any effort into composting, but still think it’s important to reduce waste going to the landfill, you could try this out. It’s a good way to ease into composting if you are worried about doing the work, especially if you aren’t too concerned about using the compost and just want to reduce waste. In my next posts, I’ll talk about “more legit” methods of composting and what specifically you are able to compost.

About How We Flourish

Welcome! I'm Chloe. I have a passion for creating a healthy life and a healthy environment. Join me as I explore homemade and reusable products, essential oils, and real food. Look around a bit. I look forward to getting to know you.
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7 Responses to Composting, Part 1

  1. This is our first year of composting and at first, our pile was “cooking” good. Now, not so much. I think we have too much of our garden waste and not enough of other things. Hubby made our bin by standing 3 pallets on their sides and nailing them together, then the front has one swinging like a door. At first we kept it covered after adding things (with a piece of tarp), then read that water was good, so we uncovered it. That’s when all seemed to stop. Now we are covering it again. Any suggestions? Living in northern Maine, we have warmth very little times of the year, although I’ve been told that winter composting is certainly possible.

    • healthypeoplehealthyplanet says:

      Hmmm…I’m not sure. If you have too much brown, dry material, it will compost slower. I have never tried to make something compost in the winter; we just fill the pile and then let it break down in the summer because it gets very hot in Minnesota. I have read that if you want to compost in the winter, you are best off getting an enclosed system or a dalek and insulating it with a think duvet or something like that. However, just covering in can insulate it, so I wonder if maybe it was just too cold out when you uncovered it. Water is good, but it can be added manually through more greens or sprinkling water. You don’t want to add too much, though. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      • I had an acquaintance tell me that she composts here in the winter and it melts the snow from the pile, so I know it’s possible… I just don’t know if it’s possible for me, ha ha. We’re trying, it’s just that it’s our first try and it seems everyone has a way that works for them, you know what I mean? If you’re in Minnesota, isn’t your weather somewhat comparable to ours? It seems I’ve heard that before… hmm.. I appreciate your posts on composting and am sending my hubby the link so he can read Pt 1 & 2 himself, too. I know that same person told me that I’d want to have a “summer” pile and a “winter” pile, the latter one being fairly close to the house. I think you’re right about the water, maybe we should just keep it covered and water by hand if we have to. Thanks so much for your reply, as well as your series on composting!

      • healthypeoplehealthyplanet says:

        I’m really glad you like it!
        Regarding weather, it gets VERY cold in the winter in Minnesota, but it also gets into the 90’s regularly in the summer. We don’t attempt composting at all in the winter, so I don’t know the best way to do so, but we have no problem in the summer. I hope you don’t give up on composting. I think it goes differently for everyone, and it’s just a matter of finding what works for you.

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