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The How and Why of Composting

Composting is very “in” right now, and for good reason - it’s great for the environment and for your plants! Basically, you get compost (organic matter that has decomposed) from the process of composting. Compost is very rich in nutrients, like a super vitamin for your plants. It also recycles all organic matter from your trash bins, like a recycling upgrade.

This sounds amazing, right? You get to have less trash and give back to the Earth via your plants and/or garden. However, it can be a pretty daunting task. Where do you start? Is there one set way to do it? What can I compost? What can’t I compost? Here are the basics, or the how and why of composting. Soon you’ll be making your own compost!

Why should you compost?

The soil food web has many components: microscopic bacteria and fungi, earthworms, crickets, etc. Many fungi form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, which helps the roots feed themselves better. Compost breathes new energy into this process! Compost can also strengthen the ability of most vegetables to fight off common diseases and possibly improve their flavor and nutrition too. It also helps retain moisture in the soil.

In a nutshell, composting allows you to up your garden game while reducing the amount of trash you toss away.

Where do you get compost from?

Believe it or not, you can actually buy premade compost from most home improvement stores. However, making your own is the best option, as well as the most cost-effective. You may find that you’ll need to buy some from time to time and that’s ok too. Even the most serious composters have to buy some occasionally. The amazing thing about compost is it will be different every time you make it, depending on what you put in it (we’ll talk about that next).

What do you compost? What do you not compost?

Compost these things:

  • Fruit scraps (no citrus)

  • Vegetable scraps (including corn cobs)

  • Moderate amount of coffee grounds

  • Tea leaves or tea bags

  • Eggshells

  • Straw

  • Shredded paper

  • Newspaper (no glossy paper)

  • Cardboard

  • Grass cuttings

  • Plant cuttings

  • Dried or fresh leaves

  • Sawdust

Do NOT compost these things:

  • Meat

  • Dairy products

  • Citrus (including orange peels)

  • Cooked vegetables

  • Garlic or onions

  • Avocado skins and seeds

  • Pet waste (including cat litter)

  • Weeds (with seed heads)

  • Glossy paper

  • Coal or charcoal ashes

  • Diseased plants

  • Fish waste

How to compost

This can be a blog post all on its own (and it will be so make sure you’re following us!). Depending on the size of the space you can have dedicated to your compost bin will depend on what you need to buy. And if you think you live in too small of a place or even an apartment, and so you can’t compost, you would be wrong! You absolutely can compost with a small space - you would just use a smaller bin. For example, if you have a bigger space in your yard, you can use a plastic garbage can, but if you live in an apartment, you could go smaller and use a bucket (like the orange ones from Home Depot). Some places sell their own pre-made compost bins and they range in sizes too - they even have countertop ones!

Composting can seem difficult but it really isn’t once you have the basics. Make sure you’re following us to see our upcoming post on how to make your own compost bin and how to layer your compost!

Do you compost? Let us know in the comments!


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