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.
Tools you need:
Putting the Composter Can together:
- 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
- Take a saw and carefully take off the bottom of your Garbage Can
- 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
- Drill a line of holes around the can every two to three inches until you
reach the top of the can.
- 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.
- First layer: thin layer of organic garden soil on bottom.
- Second layer: Yard waste
- Third layer: Kitchen scraps, chopped (ie veggie peels and coffee
grounds, shredded tea bags).
- Fourth layer: More yard waste like grass or leaves.
- Fifth layer: More organic garden soil
- Sixth layer: worms and sow bugs, handful
- 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.
- 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
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
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
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