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Friends of the Earth: Food Waste 102: Composting

Last week we talked about the benefits of using a garbage disposal instead of just tossing food waste into the trash. While we learned using the garbage disposal is a better option, it isn’t the best option. Today we will talk about a better option… composting! 

First let's talk about what compost is and the benefits. Compost improves soil structure. Most gardeners don’t start with great soil. Compost will improve its texture, water-holding capacity, and fertility. Compost provides a balanced source of plant nutrients. Compost stimulates beneficial organisms. Where can you put your compost mix? In the vegetable garden, perennial gardens, shrubs, trees and even all over your lawn! 

What are compost ingredients? A tip to make an abundance of compost in a short time is to balance four ingredients: carbon, nitrogen, water and oxygen. Some examples of greens (high in nitrogen) include: kitchen scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, fresh weeds, seaweed, flower clippings, tea bags and leaves. Some examples of browns (high in carbon) include: wood shavings, shredded paper, dry leaves, corncobs, straw, sawdust, corn stalks, nut shells, twigs and cardboard. 

Here are some sample recipes to get you started: Recipe 1: 1 part fresh grass clippings, 1 part dry leaves, 1 part good garden soil. Spread the ingredients in 3-inch-deep layers to a height of 3 to 4 feet. Recipe 2: 2 parts fresh grass clippings, 2 parts straw or spoiled hay, 1 part good garden soil. Spread ingredients in 4-inch layers, adding water if needed. Recipe 3: 2 parts dry leaves, 1 part fresh grass clippings, 1 part food scraps. Spread ingredients in 4-inch layers, adding water if needed.

There are different kinds of compost bins: continuous composters, batch composters, multi-bin composters, indoor composters and worm bins. You decide which is best for you! What should NOT go into a compost pile? Pet waste, meat scraps, oils/ grease, produce stickers and coated paper or cardboard. 

Brittany Feltner, Education Coordinator at Henry County Solid Waste District. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@HenryCountyRecycles). #HenryCountyRecycles

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