Zero Waste: Composting 101.

This zero waste tip is like magic!  You put waste in a pile, and it comes out beautiful soil! Whoa! Science!

I definitely think it can be intimidating to get started and feel confident about the process, so I wanted to break it down a little for you.  We've been successfully composting for the past 3 years, and it has drastically cut down on our landfill waste while turning our food scraps and coffee grounds into nutrient rich soil for our garden.  Win win!  

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This is our compost bin that I recently built about a month ago out of cedar fence posts.  It stacks by layer so I can easily turn it (that's why that gate is there to the left - that's where we turn it over onto).  I followed a tutorial from Vegetable Gardening with Lorraine's website for this simple stacking compost.  It was super simple, cost about $40, and it only took me a couple hours to make the whole thing. 

There are lots of options for building or buying the bin itself, and even our city offers discounted compost bins for people who are looking for different options.  

Without further ado, I will dive into the basics of composting!  Here are some of the simple rules for successfully composting:

Wet Greens - This is your veggie scraps, peels, coffee grounds, fruit pits (chopped up), tea bags (when not in plastic bags), etc.  This is typically what you think of when you start composting, and it's probably what we always have the most of!  However, it is not what your compost needs the most of to successfully decompose.

Dry Browns - This is really what you need to make your compost work!  This is allllll the brown stuff - dried leaves, clean cardboard, (black & white) newspaper, grass clippings, paper bags - you get the idea.  Ideally shredded up, and layered between every pile of wet greens you add in.  

Compostable No No's - Meat, dairy, animal feces, oil or bones, and any diseased plants or weeds (they will just start growing!).  

Now just dump it in!  It's important to really get the correct ratios of your Wet Greens to Dry Browns.  You want the ratio to be at least equal, but I try to keep it about double the dried browns to every amount of wet greens I put in.  This will keep your compost breaking down faster and will keep it from smelling badly (it should not smell at all). Then every few months you just turn it over and you have some new beautiful black gold compost soil that will keep all your garden happy and robust!

 Illustration by  Robin Cluston  - you can find original post  here !

Illustration by Robin Cluston - you can find original post here!

I love her illustrations as a quick reference! 

Here is the Do Not Compost illustration by the same artist:

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It really never gets old when I turn it and there is beautiful compost at the bottom!  It blows my mind.  Not to mention how happy I am to be actively apart of keeping waste out of landfills (where it would not break down as quickly due to the in-aerobic conditions, not to mention plastic bags that it's in), and we're helping our plant friends in the process!  

Happy composting friends!

P.S. If you live in an area where composting doesn't seem like an option, more and more cities offer compost services for reasonable rates where they pick up your compost just like the trash!  Yay!