Some tips from John:
1. Choose and set up your compost bin
A compost bin can be made from as little as $15 in Chicken Wire or Plastic Fencing (or less if you use reclaimed materials). Compost bins are commercially available as well, and can range from a $75 mesh bin to a $350+ luxury container or indoor automated composter.
If you're making one, the size should be between 3' and 5' square to make it easy to turn the compost within it.
Don't forget to place it where it's convenient to add food waste! You'll be adding to your compost every day and probably only taking the black gold of new earth out a couple of times a year, so convenient, daily access matters more than proximity to the garden.
2. Put your "collection container" in the kitchen
Any lidded pot or container can serve as a food waste collection container. Place it in the kitchen, and let everyone know what it is and why it is there!
Much of your food waste can be added to your compost - fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, egg shells and more. Please remember that animal products should not be composted. Meat and dairy products, as well as oils, should be disposed of in your regular waste container.
3. Carry scraps to the bin, and turn it once a week or so with a shovel or pitchfork
That's it! Carry the scraps to the bin every day, turn it once a week, and soon you will have finished compost. Please remember that new food waste should be covered with older materials or leaves. This is particularly important if your bin does not have a cover.
What sorts of things can I put into my compost bin?
|Fruit and vegetable trimmings
||Coffee grounds, tea bags and eggshells
|Plant, tree and grass trimmings
||Compostable "plastics" from PLA
What sorts of things cannot into my compost bin?
|Diseased plant materials
|Meat, dairy products, oils
How do I know when compost is ready?
Finished compost is like the richest soil: dark and crumbly, fresh-smelling, ready for planting. You can’t really identify any of the things you first put in the bin.
What can you use finished compost for?
Here are some tips from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture:
- Mix in compost to improve soil. In sandy soils, compost acts like a sponge, retaining water and nutrients where it can be reached by plant roots. In clay soils, compost makes the ground more porous, creating tiny holes and passageways that help soil drain more quickly.
- Spread compost on your lawn to help fill in low spots.
- Use as a mulch for landscaping and garden plants. Mulches cover the soil around plants, protecting the soil from erosion and the drying effects of wind and sun.
- Mix compost into pots for potted plants.
What if my compost smells bad?
It's either too wet or just too compacted - the solution is just to turn it and get some air in there. You also could try adding some dry or brown materials, suck as newspaper or leaves.
What if there are critters in my compost?
Remember: no food wastes with oils, meats, or dairy; odors from these can attract scavengers like raccoons or mice!