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Composting, Quick and Dirty

programmable thermostats come to mind. But we don’t want to skip the basics, either, which is why this week we’ve decided to visit the age-old topic of composting. Let’s look at some of the advantages.

In a compost pile or bin, microbes turn waste matter like food scraps, yard clippings and even paper into usable organic soil. This material can be spread out and worked into your garden or landscaping and has several benefits, including helping the planet.

For one, when added to most soil types, it helps hold on to moisture. This cuts down on your need to water, saving money and natural resources. And it can also improve drainage and aeration, which is especially helpful if you’ve got lots of clay in your soil.

Compost also helps provide some of the necessary nutrients plants need to live. It might not completely cancel out fertilizing. But it will make a dent in how much you use and how often. This saves money, too, and helps keep fertilizer from washing into nearby waterways.

Beneficial organisms are encouraged to grow with the addition of compost, as well. Tiny microbes and creatures like earthworms are essential to the health of soil.

And composting reduces the strain on our landfills, too. Experts say about 95 percent of America’s food waste ends up there, taking up about 15 percent of the space. Yard trimmings make up another 13.5 percent. And paper, which can be composted if it’s not glossy, fills up 27 percent. Those three things account for more than half of America’s garbage.

Composting is a relatively easy thing to get in to. You can design and build your own bin. Or you can purchase one of many dozens of designs offered online or at your local gardening center.  And there are small versions, too, made for indoor use. Known as vermicomposters, they use earthworms to break down food waste and paper.

If you don’t have anywhere to put your compost, do a little checking in your community. Most areas have community gardens nearby or even have people or organizations that do regular compost pickups.

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