We wrote about composting a number of years ago, but the subject is worthy of revisiting. Do you compost? One of KOMB’s objectives is to increase recycling and improve waste management in Eastern Madera County, and composting is perhaps one of the oldest forms of recycling. Organic waste can be turned into “black gold” for your garden through this simple and amazing process.
Let’s look at the benefits – free organic soil amendment for your garden; less wear and tear on your garbage disposal; less stinky garbage in the trash can; reduction in waste products entering the septic or sewage system; a means to consolidate piles of grass clippings, manure, or leaves; reduced garbage sent to landfills and therefore less methane production in landfills; and, it can provide education for your children or grandchildren on an interesting natural biological process.
How to get started? One can buy a composter and read the instructions. If you don’t want to spend the money, you can go to the library or check the web for instructions. Many gardening books have a section on composting with directions for building a container. Wire mesh, slatted boards, an old garbage can, even a clean oil barrel can be used. The container must have openings or holes for air to circulate.
Where to put the composter? Outdoors, preferably where there’s some protection from the sun, and not so far away from the house that it’s inconvenient. Having a hose nearby is a good idea to keep the pile moist.
What to compost? The right balance of “green” and “brown” waste will help your compost pile be odor-free as the material decomposes efficiently. For these purposes, manure is considered “green,” as are freshly pulled weeds, vegetable trimmings and grass clippings.
“Brown” stuff includes dried leaves, sawdust, wood chips and small sticks. If the pile is smelly, add some brown stuff; if it’s not breaking down well, add some green stuff. Kitchen scraps (but not meat or dairy products), tea bags, coffee grounds, old flowers, eggshells, grass clippings (but no more than a 2 ½ inch layer), manure (but no dog or cat waste), other non-diseased plant waste, as well as some good garden soil can be added to the bin.
As simple as composting is, it does require a little effort and attention. For maintenance, the composting material needs moisture and air. The compost is “done,” and ready to apply to your garden when it becomes dark and crumbly. Most of us in the Mountain Area have the space and the raw material to compost.
So get started today and reap the benefits. Your garden, and our environment, will thank you. Composting implements the 4 Rs – rethink, reduce, reuse, and recycle – to decrease waste, preserve our natural resources, and keep our mountains beautiful.
Details: see epa.gov/epawaste/conserve and click on “composting.”