Composting

I am always trying to find ways to reduce my “footprint” on the planet.  I drive a hybrid car, I don’t use K-Cups, I try extra hard to remember reusable bags at the grocery store.  It’s the little things, right?

So, I thought I’d do some research into composting; making less trash is a pretty big deal now days.

The Do’s and Don’ts  of Composting.

DO:
Alternate layers of nitrogen-rich greens & carbon-rich browns.
Greens:
• Vegetable peelings
• Rotten fruit & Fruit Peelings
• Leaves & Grass ( green & dry)
• Coffee grounds &  Tea leaves
• Manure from vegetarian pets: rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, sheep, horses,cows, llamas, etc.
Browns:
• Dry leaves, grass and plant stalks
• Shredded newsprint (non-toxic inks only)
• Shredded Brown Paper bags
• Unbleached paper towels, napkins, wet is okay, greasy no!
• Cardboard (small pieces)
• Corncobs
• Straw
You can also add:
• Rinsed, crushed eggshells
• Pet hair, to help discourage rodents
• Dryer lint
• Wood ash
Tips:
• Select a level, partially-shaded spot for your bin with good water drainage. Be sure it is at least 8 in – 12 in away from walls, fences, bushes, doors and windows.
• Cut kitchen scraps up into smaller pieces – faster decomposition.
• Whenever you add any food layer, top it off with brown material. Keep a pile of dry browns near the bin to sprinkle on top each time you add kitchen scraps.
• The beneficial microorganisms in your pile need oxygen. If too compacted (like in a landfill), they produce methane as they decompose, which is a greenhouse gas. Leave lots of air space in your bin and mix the contents every week or two with an aerator tool, or an old broom handle.
• Collect dry leaves and grass in a separate, dry container. Then you can use them year-round.
• Compost is generally ready to use after two or three months but aging the pile another one to two months before putting it on lawns or garden will improve it.

 DON’T:
AVOID ADDING THESE TO YOUR COMPOST:
    • Grease, oils or fats.
    • Bread or bread products
    • Rice
    • Pastas
    • Salad dressings or sauces
    • Dairy products
    • Nuts or nut butters
    • Fish
    • Meat
    • Bones
    • Dog or cat feces, kitty litter, human waste – Meat-eating animals, including humans,  carry diseases, and kitty litter may contain chemicals.
    • Ash from barbecues or coal Contains harmful chemicals.
   • Weeds with mature seeds. When you spread the compost, you’ll spread those weeds, to your garden.
    • Treated wood products May contain harmful chemicals.

Troubleshooting (Symptom-Diagnosis-Treatment):
Compost is attracting pests: dogs, rodents, raccoons.
Improper materials added.
Use a pest-resistant bin.  Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile and cover with soil.
Compost pile is wet and stinky, too much green material.
Add brown material. Turn pile. Insufficient covering.
Put scraps at the center of the pile.
Pile is dry too much brown material.
Not enough water.
Add fresh kitchen scraps. Moisten with water.  Cover pile to reduce evaporation.
Pile is cold.
Lack of nitrogen.
Add green materials such as grass clippings, kitchen scraps.
Compost is attracting flies.
Food scraps are exposed.
Cover green material with browns. Avoid adding grease, oils, meats, breads, etc (see checklist above). Cover food scraps with soil or brown material. Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile.
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