As I am sure you are aware food scraps are an everyday occurrence in most households but many gardeners fail to realize their value. There is “gold” in them their scraps; black gold that is! Compost aka “black gold” could be the most important “gift” you can give your garden soil. Compost adds rich nutrients to the soil which are like rocket fuel for your plants. Recycling your kitchen scraps can be a great way to manufacture compost and it’s not too difficult to do. You can save money by not having to purchase compost at the store and the fact that it is good for the environment makes this a win-win all around!
Estimates are that nearly 50% of all food that is produced in the United States ends up being discarded. A typical household can throw away up to 500 pounds of food waste each year! Composting is an obvious way to reduce this waste but you have to know what you can compost and what you can’t. If you put the wrong food scraps in your compost pile or bin you will have some undesirable side effects with the smell potentially being the least of your concerns. Here are some composting Dos and Don’ts:
What You Should Compost
- Vegetable and fruit peels, rinds, and cores. Corn cobs and husks can be as well. The cobs will take a longer time to break down.
- Anything made from flour including old bread, pasta, etc.
- Grains such as rice and barley (Cooked or uncooked)
- Coffee grounds, filters, and tea bags
- Crushed Egg Shells
- Outdated boxed foods such as crackers, cookies, etc.
What You Shouldn’t Compost
- Meat and related waste such as bones and the skin of fat
- Fish related waste
- Dairy products such as cheese, butter, yogurt, etc.
- Grease or oil
One of the best ways to store food scraps until you put them in the compost pile or bin is in a kitchen compost pail. This is a container with a secure lid that can be kept under the sink. You can purchase a container specifically for this purpose and depending upon how much waste you generate you can empty it daily or every few days. If you line your container with newspaper it can help reduce the risk of odors or pesky fruit flies/gnats and the newspaper can go into the compost pile too once it starts to deteriorate. If you can add a layer of compost that you have already made or peat moss on top of newly added scraps that will also help keep the odors away.
When you add your kitchen scraps to the compost pile make sure you just don’t throw them on top of the mound. The composting process requires oxygen and heat. The best way to initiate these processes is to incorporate the new scraps into the pile by mixing them in with the existing material. Finally, in addition to your kitchen scraps, you need to add some “brown” ingredients to the pile. If you have too much green material it will lead to odors so adding peat moss, soil, or more compost to the pile is a must.
If you have any questions about composting your kitchen scraps please feel free to contact us!