“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.” –Pete Seeger
| By Amelia Stolarz |
For about half a dozen years now, I’ve been composting my kitchen scraps.
The benefits are twofold: The amount of trash piling up on a landfill somewhere is reduced; and it’s a nutritious cocktail for my soil.
Although I attended an hour-long discussion about composting at a local nursery, I found it a bit overwhelming for a novice like me. There was so much talk about carbon-to-nitrogen ratios and adding worms, etc. that I actually delayed composting for a while.
When I did start, I didn’t go about it in a scientific way. (Note: There are actual compost scientists!) I just winged it. But the experience has been rewarding nonetheless.
Composting requires a small amount of effort and a lot of patience.
I keep a couple of recycled, covered plastic containers under my kitchen sink to corral the items to compost. The large Costco potato salad containers work fine. In one, I put my coffee grinds and in the other, I put the coffee filters and all other raw fruit and vegetable scraps. You can even add whole tea bags with the string and label still attached.
However, plastic/sticker labels should be removed and thrown in the trash — they never decompose.
Tip: Be sure that the items you’re composting haven’t been contaminated with meats or oils; they can attract unwanted critters to your yard!
When a container fills up, I empty it into a composting drum that I have in the yard.
With the intense Florida heat and my unscientific mixture of carbon and nitrogen, in several months I have a dark, dense, gooey soil that I add to the ground. I have also been blessed with some volunteer tomato plants that grew from seeds in the composted soil.
The reason that I separate the coffee grounds from the other material is because when I was growing up in Brooklyn, my mother would toss the coffee grounds over the back porch onto her rosebush and it was the biggest rose bush I’ve ever seen. So I like to add my used grounds to my rose bush. If you don’t consume coffee, fear not — Many Starbucks will recycle the large bags that their beans come in and fill them with used coffee grounds for customers to take home and compost. Nice!
I recently readThe Newman’s Own Organics Guide to a Good Life by Nell Newman and Joseph D’Agnese. In the chapter on gardening, they tell a story of how Father Dom worked with Paul Newman to raise a nice amount of money selling composting fodder to benefit a charity. So you never know what your compost will grow into.
If you found any of these tips particularly helpful or would like to share your ideas, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
1. a mixture of various decaying organic substances, as dead leaves or manure, used for fertilizing soil.
2. a composition; compound.
verb (used with object)
1. to use in compost; make compost of: to compost manure and kitchen scraps.
2. to apply compost to (soil).
verb (used without object)
1. to make compost: Shredded leaves will compost easily.
Amelia Stolarz is a lifelong organizing guru, an avid gluten-free baker and a Certified Public Accountant.