Composting as a family

Tue, Jun 27, 2017
Composting as a family (© iStockPhoto)
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If you thought methane only comes from flatulent cows, you’ll be surprised to learn that you might actually be a bigger source, albeit through indirect off-gassing. When biodegradable matter, like food scraps or lawn clippings end up trapped in landfills with non- biodegradable material, the lack of oxygen causes a much higher methane build-up than when it’s mixed with natural materials. And that’s not the worst of it: Methane is estimated to be 20 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

This is why learning to compost is imperative to an eco-family. Composting helps you grow a better garden, create deeper topsoil’s, recycle great nutrients, saves waste from going in the already too populated landfill, and teaches your kids how to be resourceful. The first step is incorporating a method to saving your veggie peels in a bin rather than tossing them in the garbage. Composting not only takes up valuable garbage can space but it helps keep your garden growing healthy too. You can either buy a composer from a company (www.naturemill.com), or sometimes your garbage company will sell them for cheap or make this rodent proof one that I have given you steps to build below. Build this with your children so they can get excited about Composting.
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Tools you need:
 
  • Plastic Garbage Can (Home Depot or Lowes for good buy)
     
  • Organic Gardening Soil (Garden Store or Home Depot)
     
  • Dry Leaves & grass clippings

    Save up your veggie and fruit scraps for one week in a container. This can include fruit peelings, coffee grounds, eggshells (crushed), used tea bags. DO NOT put meat, dairy, fish, bones, as they attract rodents. (Choose a strong container (bucket, pail) with a lid made to fit it perfect. Make sure it's big enough to collect about a week's worth of scraps.)

    Line it with a double layer of plastic bags and place it near your cutting board or work area in your kitchen).
     
  • Go get some red worms and sow bugs from outside if you like
     
  • And get a Long stick, like the ones they give you to stir paint at the paint store.
Putting the Composter Can together:
 
  1. Take a saw and carefully take off the bottom of your Garbage Can
     
  2. Start at the bottom of the can about two inches up and drill holes around the whole can on that two inch mark. (the holes should be about five inches apart.)
     
  3. Drill a line of holes around the can every two to three inches until you reach the top of the can.
     
  4. Pick a nice spot for you Composter to reside. It should be a sunny spot, in softer soil, that is not very close to a wall and preferably close to your kitchen. Place the can on the soil and push it down to settle it in. If the soil is hard, then dig a little trench with a trowel for the can.
     
  5. First layer: thin layer of organic garden soil on bottom.
     
  6. Second layer: Yard waste
     
  7. Third layer: Kitchen scraps, chopped (ie veggie peels and coffee grounds, shredded tea bags).
     
  8. Fourth layer: More yard waste like grass or leaves.
     
  9. Fifth layer: More organic garden soil
     
  10. Sixth layer: worms and sow bugs, handful
     
  11. Mix the compost with your long stick and add a little bit of water, if it seems dry or a bit of soil if it seems wet.
     
  12. Place the top of the can on.

Once these twelve steps are done, you can add your food scraps whenever you like, but remember every time you toss your scraps in you should follow with a toss of grass cuttings or soil or leaves. Make sure that you are stirring your compost every couple of days to keep it in good circulation. If your Composter gets ¾ full or more, take a break from adding to it, and let it work itself down. After just a couple of weeks you should have beautiful rich compost to add to your garden, your house plants or your neighbors for their home gardens.

You may wonder how this process is working, and it is really just the circle of life. The bacteria, worms, fungi and other “decomposers” living in the soil, break down the thriving organic matter and turn it into something very rich in nutrients for plants. It really is a beautiful thing.

Here are a couple facts on Composting from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website:

Composting Facts and Figures

  • Red wigglers (i.e., the worms used in vermicomposting) eat their weight in organic matter each day.
     
  • Almost 60 percent of the municipal solid waste produced in the United States (including paper) is compostable material.
     
  • There are more than 3,200 yard trimmings composting facilities nationwide.
So after you have successfully finished your first month of composting and are reaping the benefits from your thriving garden and beautiful house plants, invite some of your friends over to spread the word on how great composting is. Serve up some of the food from your garden so they can exclaim how wonderful it is, and you can tell them why, and how they can have veggies just as tasty as yours!

If you want to take Composting to a higher lever, you can log on to www.greywaterguerrillas.com to learn how to:

  • Reuse household water from shower and dishwasher to create lush gardens
     
  • Build a composting toilet and a pedal-powered washing machine
     
  • Recycle gray water
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