Using Kitchen Waste for Composting

Ever heard of composting? It is a super simple and fun way to help your garden, recycle, and limit waste. It helps the environment as well!

What is composting?

Composting is an organic substance that can help plants grow and your soil become more rich and healthy. Combining food scraps, and materials from your yard can create compost that will help fertilize your plants, enrich your soil, and make less trash. It helps with the zero waste movement or even just limiting waste.

Organic materials will all naturally decompose eventually, but composting at home will speed up the process.

Why should you compost?

There are many reasons why you should compost. They include:

  • Compost helps your garden. It contains many rich nutrients and helps the soil hold fertilizer better. It also helps balance the ph level of the soil, and changes the structure of the soil, making it less likely to erode, and allowing plant roots to spread more easily. The soil and your plants will be healthier-looking, more abundant, and better-tasting.
  • Compost is good for the environment. Compost can eliminate 30% or more trash. It reduces landfill waste, as well as kitchen and yard waste. Reusing kitchen scraps is a great way to help the planet, and you will have fewer trips of taking out the trash.
  • Compost brings good bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms into the soil. They help break down and decompose the materials used in compost, and help prevent some plant diseases.
  • Compost can help you save money, not only on trash service bills but also on food or grocery bills. By composting all food scraps there isn’t any more spending money on wasted food. You can even compost food that is beginning to rot or mold.

How do you compost?

In order to compost you need two things. Browns and Greens. Browns are carbon rich materials such as straw, hay, or dead leaves. You can even use paper scraps, or pizza boxes if you don’t have organic browns. Use grass clippings or food scraps from your kitchen for greens.

It’s vital to have a mix of browns and greens for the compost to work properly. With out browns the greens will start to smell bad, and not break down as fast. Aim for a 2:1 ratio, with slightly more browns than the greens.

There are a few methods to composting, and each works great. It just depends on the amount of time you want to spend composting, and the space you have available.

Ways to Compost Inside:

There are a couple different ways you can compost inside.

Using a worm bin:

Worm bins are composters with holes for ventaliation, and a number of bins (depending on how big your worm composter is.) It is perfect for apartments, or if you don’t have big yard space because it’s smaller, and can be stored inside. It has holes for ventaliation and draining purposes,  bedding, and it is raised up off the ground.

In each bin is bedding (some brown materials,) and greens materials, and worms. The best type of worm to use are the Red Wiggler worms. They feed off of rotting materials and love the dark and damp environment of the bins. Red Wiggler worms can eat up to half their body weight a day.

You can either make a DIY worm bin, or you can buy one with stackable bins.

To harvest the compost, you can either dump out the contents of the bin in a tarp under a light or in the sunshine. The worms will travel away from the sunlight to the bottom of the tarp, and you can scoop off the top composted layer. If you have stackable bins, you can also stack another bin to the top of the stack full of food scraps. The worms will travel to the top bin tempted by the food. The bottom bins should be full of compost that you can take out.

To learn more about worm bins click here.

Compost Buckets:

Another easy way to start your compost is to collect any food scraps or other green materials in a bucket. It can be kept on your counter or in your freezer, and when it it full you can take it outside to a chicken coop, compost tumbler, or compost pit. You can also take it to a local compost service.

This method can attract bugs/ smell easier than the others so make sure you empty your bucket and wash it out often.

Composting outside:

Composting outside also has a few options.

Compost bins:

Compost bins are big containers that are perfect for composting. You put in your green waste and food scraps in at the top, and later take the compost out from the bottom side doors. Alternate layers of green and brown materials and wait for it to turn into compost, also known as “Black Gold.” Most bins need to be turned (meaning moving the compost around with a shovel to allow for airflow) and some have build in handles. The material should be damp, not too soaked, but damp. The microorganisms need a wetter environment to do a good job decomposing the browns and greens.

You can DIY a compost bin as well, but store bought ones are less likely to attract rats and/or other pests.

Most bugs are harmless to the compost, and some even help make a healthy environment. But, they still are annoying, and some are dangerous. As long as you turn your compost, and bury the food in the brown material you should be fine. To prevent pests or insects/larvae from getting in your compost you can dump boiling water on top of the compost to kill them, and shred any material before adding it to the bin.

Buying a compost bin can help keep out pests and makes the process of turning the compost and moving your bin around really easy.  There are also compost tumblers that are really effective at mixing the compost and doing the work for you and keeping out critters.

Here is a great compost bin you can purchase.

Compost Piles:

Another way to compost outside is by having a compost pile. You still layer green and brown material, you still turn it othen, and you still want to keep it moist but you do it all in a pile on the ground, or in a hole dug in the ground. It might take some more watching over to keep the pests away, since it is out in the open, but a close eye, and following the tips from above should keep it safe.

What should you compost?

Putting the right kitchen scraps in your compost is key. You don’t want the bad smell, or unwanted pests to come. Keep these dos and don’ts in mind while composting. Also, cutting up material into smaller pieces will speed up the process.

DO: DON’T:
Fruits and vegetables and nuts Dairy
Egg Shells Meat or bones
Bread or noodles Eggs
Biodegradable tea bags Yard trimmings treated with chemicals or pestisides
Houseplants or old flowers Black Walnut Branches or leaves
Hair Grease, Fat, or Oils
Coffee grounds/ Coffee filters Fish
Cardboard/Paper Pet waste