During the harvest season, my compost bin starts to fill up with fruit and vegetable scraps more quickly than at any other time of year. The act of decomposing and recycling organic kitchen materials to use as a fertilizer has been done for centuries, and is the best way to reduce, reuse and recycle all those bits that might otherwise go in the trash. If you’re new to recycling, here are a few tips to help get you started, and keep things going.
What you’ll need: a back yard composter, available at most garden centres or hardware stores – some cities have recycling and composting programs in place, and you can get one through them. Choose a shady corner of your yard – it’s tough to move once filled – with easy access to a water source. To prevent having to run outside every time you have kitchen scraps, a small indoor composter to keep under the sink is a good idea, too.
What you can compost: Think beyond fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings – you can also compost tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, paper napkins, and bread products like stale bread, cereal and crackers.
What you can’t compost: Dairy products, meats, fish bones and oils can attract bugs and rodents, and generate a nasty smell. Large mango stones have a tough time breaking down.
How to keep compost healthy: Keep your compost moist, and give it a stir with a pitchfork or shovel once in awhile, when you think of it. Make sure you don’t add large quantities of one material – like grass clippings – all at once. Compost loves variety!
When the material at the bottom of your compost bin is rich, dark and resembles soil, it’s ready to go. Add it to your garden for a happy, healthy harvest!