is part of our life. The existence of most things go back to natural resources. What we litter could often be reused, saving natural resources. But, plastic bags do not grow on trees. The smoke from burning waste is a health hazard. Waste in the landscape is a threat to our fresh water sources, besides the aesthetic disturbance.
What can we do?
One way is being selective in buying products without unnecessary package.
Another way is recycling.
Organic waste such as yard trimmings and kitchen scraps represent about 40 % of our waste stream. Recycling organic waste is a natural way to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and to preserve natural resources.
Composting is recycling
Composting is an easy way to transform yard trimmings and fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps into a dark, crumbly, sweet-smelling soil amendment. It improves soil structure, keeps moisture, provides plant nutrients, and introduces beneficial micro-organisms into the soil. When compost is added to the soil, it helps keep plants healthy. Fertilizer becomes unnecessary. Plus, we benefit, as our vegetable and fruit is free from poison.
There are several ways to compost. Depending on the space you have and the organic waist arrising.
Heaps, hoops, bins, buckets, and worm boxes can help fit your composting operation into small spaces. Choose a structure that is the right size, style, cost, and effort level for you. Remember to use recycled materials or containers when constructing your compost bin.
are the least organized way to compost, but also require the least effort. Simply pile your yard waste and let it sit. If you choose to turn it once in a while it will decompose faster. Otherwise just leave it and in one to two years it will turn to compost.
(usually made from chicken or hog wire) are easy, fairly inexpensive to build, and help keep your compost pile tidy. Secure the hoop with hooks or twists of wire. To speed composting, undo the hoop, set it up next to the pile, and turn the pile back into the cage in its new location.
neatly contain yard trimmings, and when made rodent-proof, work well for composting food wastes. Build with recycled wood, wire, or other materials for an inexpensive and attractive structure. A few styles are also commercially available.
- Make sure, the heap, hoop or bin is not placed on concrete. Soil critters need to be able to enter for the composting process!
- Humidity is needed for the process as well. If conditions are to dry, sprinkle water on it from time to time. Avoid soaking wet! If it starts rotting, it will stink and not compost.
- And oxygen is needed. If you make a construction from wooden planks, leave space. If you use a bucket, insert holes or slits.
are the apartment-dweller’s answer to composting food wastes indoors or out. Used 5 gallon buckets with sealable lids can be obtained free from many grocery stores and restaurants. Stir the compost-soil mixture to aerate it once or twice a week. Be sure to fill your buckets only half-full for easy stirring.
can be used to compost food wastes indoors or outdoors. They are very convenient for small spaces and they give off little odor. Worms typically eat their own weight in kitchen scraps per day, but are picky eaters. They don’t eat yard trimmings – only fruit and vegetable trimmings.
Worm boxes can be made at home. The most important thing to remember is to allow for plenty of holes to provide the worms adequate air to breathe.
WORM COMPOST (Vermicomposting)
Worm composting is a fun way to turn fruit and vegetable trimmings into a rich fertilizer and soil amendment. This is a popular form of composting for school projects or people with no yards.
Fruit and vegetable trimmings, newspapers, and red worms. To start, use a 2:1 worms to food weight ratio (e.g., 2 lbs. worms to 1 lb. food waste)
- Shred and moisten old newspapers and layer them 6” deep in a well-ventilated plastic or wooden box. Use black and white pages of the newspaper only.
- Add worms and begin feeding them your kitchen scraps (no meat products!).
- Add fresh food waste as it becomes available.
Worm compost can be harvested in 3-6 months. The compost may be harvested by moving it all to one side of the bin and adding fresh bedding to the empty side. Then begin burying new food waste in the new bedding. The worms will migrate to the fresh bedding, allowing you to harvest the compost they produced.
This is the most compact way to compost kitchen scraps; do it in a 5 gallon bucket. Ingredients: Kitchen scraps, dry material (soil, sawdust, peat moss, straw)
- Chop kitchen scraps and mix an equal amount of dry material at least once a week using a trowel or small spade. If too wet, stir in more dry material.
- Stir thoroughly each time you add materials.
- When bucket is 3/4 full, let stand 1-3 months,
mixing it every week or two. Use finished compost in garden or planters as it is produced.