Composting 101 (You Know You Want To)

What is it?

Composting is when you use the decomposition of plant and other organic remains (like dead leaves, apple cores, and coffee grounds for example) to make a rich, earthy  substance that is perfect for enriching soil.

Why is that awesome?

Composting allows you to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes. You suddenly endow your banana peel with purpose when you compost. It helps reduce the amount of garbage we send to landfills (what should be viewed as a last resort disposal of waste). Not only does composting supply you with a harmless way to dispose of organic materials, it actually fertilizes your soil (ie. guess who will win this year’s neighborhood Best Garden… mmm hmm).

But is it cool to compost?

Yes! Not only do farmers and avid gardeners compost, but skinny jean-wearing, Mac junky, café-loving espresso drinkers are doing it too! So if protecting the earth and having an awesome garden don’t provide enough incentive, just think about how cool you’ll be!

What can compost do?

  • Suppress plant diseases and pests
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers
  • Promote higher yields of agricultural crops
  • Facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by amending contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils
  • Cost-effectively remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste
  • Remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff
  • Capture and destroy 99.6% of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air
  • Provide cost savings of at least 50% over conventional soil, water, and air pollution remediation technologies, where applicable

What can compost not do?

  • Heal human disease
  • Create its own facebook account
  • Fly
  • Dissolve sheets of metal

How do I do it!? I must know!

There are many different ways to compost. There are several different ways to use bin systems as well as just having a fenced-in (or not) pile in your yard. For a step-by-step article on creating your own compost pile, see here, or watch this helpful video, How to Make Compost courtesy of KitchenGardeners.org.

For a detailed list of what to put in and leave out of compost, please see EPA.gov. You’ll be amazed at what all you can dispose of this way (and some of the things you have to leave out too).

Content Credit: Veg Web Composting, EPA.gov, How to Make Compost.

Image Credit: Dug.org 

Sandy Hayden

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