- Purchase a composting bin. It doesn’t have to have any fancy gadgets, be able to tumble, or be on wheels. A simple, upright barrel would do fine. It just needs to allow air to get in and be sealable so that nothing larger than an ant can get in. Our favorite is the Earth Machine – it’s inexpensive, easy to use and very sturdy. Set it up somewhere convenient to your kitchen where you can easily step outside and add your compostables, whatever the weather.
- Anything that was once alive can go into a compost bin (with a few exceptions.) Potato peels, apple cores, egg shells, coffee grounds, paper towels, cooked and raw leftovers … all the organic matter that you throw out when cooking. Instead, set up a small compost pail in a convenient spot in your kitchen that can be used to hold the compostables until you are ready to take them outside to your compost bin. Brown bags, shredded, and shredded newspapers can also be added.
- Throw all organic waste from the kitchen (and garden if you don’t have too much of it) into your compost bin. Make sure it stays slightly damp – like a wrung-out sponge. If it looks a little dry, add water, or better still, the leftovers from your coffee pot. Keep adding to the compost bin. You’ll notice that every time you add another pail of compostables to your bin, it has actually reduced in size. That’s the beginning of the decomposition process. (In winter, this process may slow or stop: you can still add to your compost bin, but it will only begin to decompose in the spring thaw.)
- Leave it.
Yes, leave it. You don’t have to stir your compost, you don’t have to tumble it, or anything else. Time will turn your old kitchen waste into rich, organic matter. It takes about one year for everything to decompose to the point where you can remove it from the base of your bin and use it to enrich the soil around your household or garden plants. If you want to create compost faster than that, then you will need to turn it allowing air to get into the decomposing material.
A few things should not go into a residential compost bin: fats, dairy and animal waste. This is not because they won’t decompose over time; they will. But they do attract critters, which is not desirable close to any residence.
*If your compost is attracting flies and begins to smell it is probably too moist. Add some dry leaves or shredded newspaper and work them into the top few inches of the decomposing compost. Leave a layer of this on the top of the compost and continue to add more compostables to the bin.
* If nothing is happening – the material in the compost bin looks exactly like when you put it in. You may not have enough material in the bin, you may have too much paper goods vs. vegetable matter, or it may be too dry. You want it to have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge.
For more information go to www.bedford2020/composting