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How To Compost: Start Today!

How many of the following items would you normally be tossing in the trash:

• banana peel
• corn husk
• apple core
• coffee grounds
• tea bags
• carrot tops and peelings
• egg shells
• onion skin and scraps

Sure, the individual bits may seem small, but when you add up all of the biodegradable kitchen waste that gets put into the garbage rather than the compost, you can begin to understand what a radical change making your own compost can be.

Composting starts inside the house in the kitchen. Kitchen scraps provide the “wet” factor to balance out the dry stuff that we can call yard waste– the leaves, weeds, small twigs, grass clippings that accumulate from yard work. Again, why place these naturally decomposing materials into plastic storage bags to save for future generations to deal with? There’s really no good reason at all. Although there are those who strongly advocate compost “recipes” that suggest that certain proportions of kitchen waste and yard waste need to be added to make compost correctly, that’s generally not the way we view compost. We practice laissez-faire composting and our experience is that it always works out fine.

For gathering up our kitchen waste, we now have a nifty stainless steel container from the lovely Lee Valley Tools to keep our kitchen scraps but when we first started to compost we used a plastic bucket and that worked just fine. You can keep your compost bucket under your sink where you might store a waste basket or, if it’s a cute stainless steel one, even on the counter.


Some people are concerned that composting will smell. Actually kitchen waste stored in a bucket with a lid for 2 or 3 days will not smell bad. If you leave it longer, you might start to notice some new scents. In that case, empty your kitchen bucket regularly.

A few words of caution about what does not go into compost. Never add meat scraps or bones to your compost. They break down differently than vegetative materials and will cause bad odors. They’ll also attract the types of insects and vermin that will otherwise leave your compost alone. You will also want to avoid putting oils and dairy into your compost. Leftover grains, however, will break down just fine.

Composting kitchen waste is a very simple change of habit that will have a large impact on your garden in the form of homemade compost and a very positive effect on the earth in terms of less garbage output.

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