Summer is here and with it green lawns, flourishing gardens, and opportunity to turn daily waste into composting gold. The average American family disposes of food scraps and yard trimmings, accounting for roughly one-sixth of their monthly waste. These common waste materials are the basic ingredients for a magical, nutrient-rich compost mixture for your lawn or garden and can actually reduce the amount of fertilizer and water you use.
How do I start composting? It’s so easy!
Start by designating a composting bin or cage outside. Many people section off a portion of their yard with fencing or chicken wire to contain the compost pile to a specific area. We recommend an area twice the size of your monthly yard trimmings. Compost tumblers are also available for purchase if you don’t want to make your own. Tumblers tend to be more compact and easy to maintain, but can be restrictive when it comes to compost size and come with a spendy price tag.
Once you have your composting location, it’s time to start collecting yard trimmings and waste materials. It’s important to remember not all waste is created equally. When building your compost pile, focus on green and brown ingredients and avoid animal products. An equal amount of green and brown waste will yield the best results, eliminating excess stench without drastically slowing the decomposition process.
Try adding these ingredients to your compost:
- Yard trimmings (avoid trimmings treated with herbicides)
- Straw or hay
- Vegetable and fruit scraps
- Shredded or chopped leaves
- Manure (grazing animals only)
- Shredded paper or cardboard
- Freshwater aquarium plants
- Wood ash (in small amounts)
- And even pet hair (in small amounts)
Avoid adding these ingredients to your compost:
- Meat and dairy scraps
- Weeds with seeds (you don’t want them to take seed in your lawn or garden)
- Oily or greasy food and paper
- Manure (meat eating animals)
- Whole leaves (can stick together and prevent water penetration)
- Diseased or insect ridden yard trimmings and plants
- Herbicide and pesticide saturated products
From there, the compost does its thing! Many avid composters recommend turning or mixing the compost pile when you initially add yard trimmings and food scraps and at least once per growing season to further decomposition. Keep in mind, some things decompose very slowly. You will want to remove these items before adding your compost blend to your lawn or garden, but they can be saved and returned to the compost pile for future use.
Composting paired with recycling and upcycling can effectively reduce daily waste and improve quality of life. To learn more about waste management and recycling options, contact Novak Sanitary at (605) 338-7126.