Composting for Beginners

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Composting for BeginnersUnfortunately there is no easy way to put this. Composting is so ridiculously easy, you may have very few excuses not to get started.

First, what is composting? Does a big pile of smelly trash and flies come into your head when someone tells you they compost at home? Well you, my friend, are wrong. Composting is essentially just letting natural matter decompose and return to the earth to serve as nutrients to the soil. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

The summer season serves as a great excuse to start your own compost pile. We’re preparing fresh salads, challenging our taste buds with new finds at the farmers’ market, and we’re eating fresher in general, simply because of the abundance of produce to choose from in the next few months. Fresh, cool watermelon…ahhh!

Still wondering why you should start composting? There are quite a few benefits to rethinking your garbage. The first reason that pops into my head is reducing the smelly garbage in the house or garage. How often do we slice up some strawberries, crack an egg, clean some corn on the cob, or make fresh coffee, only to let the remains ferment in our garbage can until it’s full or really foul smelling (which is especially longer if your significant other is gone)?  Second, if you’re trying your hand at gardening or even trying to get a dead spot of grass to grow, compost is free fertilizer once it has completely broken down. Third, well, why not? All it’s doing is nourishing the outside ground to help grass, trees, and produce flourish. My personal favorite reason is probably the odor free trash in the kitchen.

So I talked you into it? Perfect! Now go to Home Depot and spend well over $100 on a compost mixer. Just kidding! I started out with this simple idea from a blog I used to follow pretty regularly. Converting a large storage tote is cheap, easy, and if you have to move, rinsing it out (or simply just buying a new one) is a cinch. To get started, just drill a few holes in the base and the lid. Layer newspaper, dirt, dead leaves, and some organic matter (banana peels, cucumber peels, egg shells, whatever), spray it until it’s slightly damp, and then…that’s it. Yep, that easy. Any time you have peels, grinds, old produce and ends of your favorite fruits or veggies, just dump them in there and give it a stir. Make sure to keep it far away from the house (in case of curious critters) and, if possible out of direct water fall. My first year with this, my compost turned into a fly infested mess because I let it get too wet. Note to self: drain after rainfall. As long as you are constantly mixing it, and making sure to drain if necessary, in a few weeks (or months, depending on how much fresh garbage you produce) you’ll have nutrient dense fertilizer for whatever your heart desires. Don’t have a garden? No problem, just dump it wherever. You’re only returning earth back to earth. 

If you’re producing a lot of compost, and have the space to do it, step it up a notch with a pallet compost bin.

The beauty of adding composting to your recycling routine is that it doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect (just not too wet!), it just requires a little thought when you go to clean up your mess after an afternoon of food prep. I simply keep a bowl out when I’m cooking a lot and dump in everything that needs to go outside. It keeps my kitchen smelling fresh, my trash bag consumption at a minimum, and lots of happy plants in my garden.

Now go clean out that produce drawer, yes even the bottom of it!

Have you ever tried composting?