Can you believe that half of all food that’s produced or consumed in this country gets thrown away? And a typical household tosses over 400 pounds of food waste a year. Composting your kitchen scraps saves energy and landfill space – plus you get natural, homemade fertilizer to enrich your garden, lawn or potted plants. Kitchen composting doesn’t stink, if you do it right. And you can even compost your dryer lint!
How to Make Compost at Home
You’ll need an outdoor compost bin or pile, plus a small indoor collection pail to keep on your countertop or under the sink.
- You can buy an outdoor composting bin, build one out of metal fencing, convert a trash can or just start a compost pile. Be sure to locate your bin or pile near a water source, and in full sun if possible. (The hotter it gets, the better.)
- A large yogurt container with lid makes a great indoor compost pail; so does a lidded coffee can. If décor is your thing, you can buy compost pails in all colors and sizes.
What Goes In?
Any of these kitchen scraps are fair game:
- Any fruit or vegetable waste, raw or cooked
- Old bread, pasta, crackers or anything else made of flour
- Cooked or uncooked grains, like rice and oats
- Coffee grounds, filters and tea bags
- Crushed eggshells
You don’t want to compost grease, meat, dairy or bones. They can attract critters and stink up your bin.
Mix It Up
The best compost comes from a mix of green stuff – kitchen scraps and lawn clippings – and brown stuff, like wood chips, sawdust and dead leaves. You can also add paper, cardboard (tear it into small pieces), hay, straw, houseplants, wool or cotton rags, and yes – dryer lint!
For best results from your compost bin or pile, be sure to:
- Layer it: Alternate a few inches of brown stuff, a few inches of green stuff – think lasagna! Burying your kitchen scraps under leaves and grass clippings keeps bugs under control.
- Water it: Soak your compost pile with water as you add layers.
- Cover it: You’ll get faster results if you used a lidded bin or cover your compost pile with a tarp.
Spread It Around
Your compost is done when it’s dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling and you can’t recognize most of the stuff you put in it. Now it’s ready to use as mulch, soil amendment, lawn dressing or potting soil. Treat your plants to compost tea – just put a shovel full of compost into a five-gallon bucket of water and let it sit a few days.
Do you have any tips to add? Tell us about it in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe to The Current for information about everything from saving electricity to housekeeping tips.