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10 Composting Tips

Updated on September 11, 2013

Who Should Compost

In this day and age, everyone who produces waste(and we all do) should be composting. There is no excuse.

Composting is not just about making a pretty nutrient rich soil for your garden. It is about reducing the waste in our landfills (it does not break down there).

The average user, if diligent, can save at least 10 pounds of waste a week from going to a landfill.

This lens provides 10 composting tips to help you along the road to becoming greener as well as pointing you in the direction of some extraordinary composting lenses.

Citation: image copyright M. E. Wood.

The Tips

Keep it simple..

There are so many things you can do to make your compost experience better for you and your family as well as produce a luscious end result.

Here are ten important tips every composter should incorporate into their daily lives. In no particular order:

1. Aerate. Your compost needs oxygen if it is going to break down the materials you add. If it is a tumbler, turn it. If it is static then get a stick/pole/shovel and get in there and move it around.

2. Save the worms. If you find a worm while you're gardening carefully relocate it to your compost bin. And it will happily work on breaking down your wastes. The more help you have the better!

3. Go Big. Container wise that is. Bigger is better when composting but smaller is better than nothing at all.

4. Get cracking! Rinse and break up your egg shells before adding them to your compost pile. This gives them a head start and you will be less likely to find undigested shell later when you go to use your compost.

5. Add fluid to your compost. You don't want it too wet but you do not want it too dry either. Water-downed leftover fruit juices are a great treat for your compost instead of pouring them down the drain.

6. Sunshine is best! Composters work quicker in sunny locations but if you have to, partial sun will work too (it will just take longer).

7. Cover it up. Keep a clear bag of leaves next to the composter so you always have brown material to cover new waste additions. This will also help keep the fly population down in the summer.

8. Double duty. If you have the room, two composters are better than one. While you are busy filling one composter the second one can be busy working in the sun. When it's time to empty one they can switch positions and start all over again.

9. Cupboard list. Keep a list posted on the inside of one of your cupboard doors so you can see at a glance what can and cannot be composted so there is no confusion (see handy .pdf below).

10. Kitchen Aid. You're more likely to compost if you don't have to run out to the composter a few times a day. Keep a lidded container in your kitchen for convenience and empty a few times a week.

What Goes In

Will come out later as beautiful...

Here is a .pdf file you can print off and post on the inside of one of your kitchen cupboards for an easy at a glance look at what can go into the compost and what can not.

What to Compost Poster

Happy Composting!

My Favorite Composters

There are simple ones and there are intricate ones. And expensive is not always the way to go. If you are just starting out keep it simple (even small) and grow from there.

Be sure to check with your local waste management facility for inexpensive composting containers.

How Does Your Garden Grow

Click thumbnail to view full-size
By Jan Tik, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/jantik/28782555/)By Carl Wycoff, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/carlwwycoff/3756522629/)By Gerriet, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/gerriet/464199240/)By Tony Crescibene, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/crescibene/3547005542/)By Elliot Brown, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/3722083882/)
By Jan Tik, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/jantik/28782555/)
By Jan Tik, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/jantik/28782555/)
By Carl Wycoff, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/carlwwycoff/3756522629/)
By Carl Wycoff, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/carlwwycoff/3756522629/)
By Gerriet, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/gerriet/464199240/)
By Gerriet, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/gerriet/464199240/)
By Tony Crescibene, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/crescibene/3547005542/)
By Tony Crescibene, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/crescibene/3547005542/)
By Elliot Brown, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/3722083882/)
By Elliot Brown, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/3722083882/)

It All Starts in the Kitchen - Making it easier...

One of the best items to ever improve my dedication to composting was getting a kitchen waste collector. This way I wasn't having to run out to the composter every time I was working in the kitchen.

They are becoming more and more decorative to suit d├ęcor but they are small enough to be tucked under the counter. I keep my at the end of the counter by the back door for convenience. If someone is going out they can't miss it.

I found our plastic one in the garbage can section of the local hardware store (the same one the local waste management carried).

Keeping the Compost Mini Catcher Fresh

Our mini kitchen compost catcher and I have a love hate relationship. It has taken a few years for me to appreciate it and find the right combination of treatment that will not make me run away from composting altogether.

In the beginning compost went straight into the container and it would be washed out once a week. This quickly became a gross process for me as it would stain the container, grow mold, and it was a nuisance to dump -- and very gross as everything became dislodged.

We tried a biodegradable plastic bag insert for awhile but having to touch the bag was creating its own "Eww!" factor as the bag would begin to decompose and become slimy once the food warmed up. Bleh!

The next option which has worked the best for us is a double lined biodegradable bag insert. We use one to two bags a week depending on how much waste we have. There is a thickening agent that keeps the bag from getting too wet. We are able to pick up the dry bag and transport it to the bigger composter with little mess. The container still gets washed out with soap and water once a week but I don't feel like I need to wear gloves and a mask.

The Way of the Future - The future is now...

Here's a cute video that alternates between sock puppets teaching and interviews on composting and recycling.

Compost - The Natural Way...

This is one of my favorite books. It is the size of a notebook, full of lots of pictures, big print and understandable concepts; making it a great starter and reference book.

The Beauty of Nature - Amazing what a little compost can do...

Click thumbnail to view full-size
By francois, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/frenchy/5003917803)By James Emery, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/emeryjl/456175019)By William Warby, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/4085740597)By Gower Ranger, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/74133172@N00/236704285)By Randy Pertiet, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/34652102@N04/4633396115)
By francois, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/frenchy/5003917803)
By francois, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/frenchy/5003917803)
By James Emery, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/emeryjl/456175019)
By James Emery, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/emeryjl/456175019)
By William Warby, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/4085740597)
By William Warby, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/4085740597)
By Gower Ranger, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/74133172@N00/236704285)
By Gower Ranger, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/74133172@N00/236704285)
By Randy Pertiet, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/34652102@N04/4633396115)
By Randy Pertiet, flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/34652102@N04/4633396115)

We would love to hear what works and does not work for you. Please share one or two of your composting tips with us.

Happy Composting!

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