What is Composting?

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Image: Ben Kerckx https://pixabay.com/en/compost-fruit-and-vegetable-waste-709020/

Composting is collecting food scraps and other organic material and letting it decompose into nutrient rich soil. This soil can later be used for growing all types of plants!

By collecting food scraps in a compost bin instead of throwing them in the trash, we can not only reduce the amount of food going to landfills and methane released but we can also create a more sustainable cycle of food consumption.

What Can Go in the Compost Bin?

What you CAN compost:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Yard trimmings and grass clippings
  • Cotton and wool rags
  • Egg shells and nut shells
  • Leaves and houseplants
  • Shredded newspaper, cardboard, and paper
  • Dryer and vacuum lint
  • Sawdust and wood chips
  • Fireplace ashes
  • Tea bags, coffee grounds and filters
  • Hay and straw
  • Hair and fur

What you CANNOT compost

  • Coal and charcoal ash
  • Fats, grease, lard and oils
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps
  • Dairy products and eggs
  • Pet waste
  • Glazed, color printed magazines
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs

*Find out more about what can or cannot be composted and why from the EPA

"Aerobic" Composting

There are many different types of composting but for the purposes of this project we will discuss "aerobic" composting. Aerobic composting is a method of composting where the compost must be turned or "aerated" every so often to feed the microbes breaking down the food scraps with oxygen so they can keep doing their job. With out turning the compost, the microbes can't thrive as well and the food scraps decompose "anaerobically" releasing methane just like in landfills.

What to do with Finished Compost?

  • You know your compost is finished when it has a crumbly texture and smells like soil.
  • Once your compost is finished, you can use it in the garden to grow fruits, veggies, spices, and other plants!
  • Compost is sometimes known as "black gold" for your garden because of all the awesome benefits:
    • Increased microbial activity.
    • Attraction of beneficial insects like earth worms.
    • General improvement of soil structure.
    • Lessens need for chemical fertilizers.
    • Your plants will love it :)
This guide was first published on Jun 27, 2018. It was last updated on Jun 27, 2018. This page (What is Composting?) was last updated on Nov 20, 2019.