photo courtesy of vickihoefle.com
What do eggs shells, coffee grounds, cucumber skins, banana peels, apple cores, nut shells, and grass clippings have in common?
Well they make great organic "green" additions to the compost pile. Greens are rich in nitrogen, and are usually wet or moist. Eliminating organic items from our trash and landfills, then turning them into "black gold" or gorgeous rich soil is a sustainable, dirt cheap way improve soil quality and feed your plants and/or lawn.
Besides the free "greens" that often originate from the kitchen or yard clippings, you will need to layer in "browns" or carbon sources that provide energy, prevent compaction, and increase airflow. Since browns are dryer, they help absorb moisture and decrease odors, which helps eliminate critters from visiting the compost pile. So where do you get browns? I'm willing to bet you have lots of "browns" that can also be saved from the trash. Do you have a paper shredder? If so, you can add the shredded paper to your compost. How about newspapers, wood ash from your fire pit, dryer lint, or sawdust? And everyone has toilet paper tubes or cardboard egg cartons that can be ripped up and added to the compost. And most notably at this time of year, the beautiful leaves that drift to the ground need to be raked, make a wonderful addition to your compost pile. It always makes me shake my head when I see black plastic trash bags full of leave out at the curb. Don't they have any space to compost? Do they not know how? Could they take the leaves to their DPW? The leaves should be decomposing naturally, replenishing the soil somewhere, not taking up space in a landfill encased in plastic bags. Browns are an important part of the composting process because they slow the composting process and feed good bacteria.
Some people favor compost bins that can be purchased for big bucks, but it's not necessary to buy a
Although taking the compost out has never been one of the favorite chores in the household, we continue to compost even during the winter months. Deep within the compost bin, millions of micro-and macro- organisms such as good bacteria and worms are hard at work breaking down the greens and browns. Along with the greens and browns that you supply, air and moisture are also necessary. In our yard, the bin stays warm and steam resulting from decomposition can often be seen in the colder months. Even if we can get the pitchfork into the bin to cover over the latest offerings, we can place shredded paper on top, or allow it to freeze until the weather warms. The soil that has resulted over the years is wonderful rich, organic soil that we use in our vegetable and flower gardens.
As the saying goes, you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die, so why not give composting a try? Eliminate huge amounts of organics and paper products from your trash, enhance your soil quality and enjoy the benefits of free, new soil, and just think ...it's dirt cheap!