Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What goes in the compost bin?

Composting is easy to do, and it is the perfect project for those of us living in subdivisions or in rural areas because it allows us to reduce waste and recycle raw materials. 

Our composting project has been very successful.  We have three 55 gallon tumble-style composting bins.  We have been sending about 2/3 less to the landfill since we set up our three tumbler composting bins (see previous post).  We have made several batches of rich fertilizing compost for our lawn, garden, and small orchard.

Here is a list of what goes in our compost bin:  
  • We compost all of our lawn clippings, fallen leaves, and even small branches.  All of the debris from pruning and trimming and edging go into the compost bins.
  • Many coffeeshops will gladly hand you the used coffee grounds for your garden, and coffee grounds are excellent for compost bins.
  • Since we both have food allergies, we cook almost all of our food from scratch, so we have a lot of vegetable and fruit waste such as peelings, cores, root ends, seeds, and so on.  That type of waste is perfect for the compost bin. 
  • We have also found that left over grains like breads, rice, and oatmeal are fine for the compost even if they have been cooked (as long as no oil or butter were used).
  • If you are lucky enough to have access to rabbit, horse, cow, or chicken manure, then take the time to add that to your compost bin as well. 
  • Some paper products can be composted as long as they have not been bleached or waxed and do not contain inks. This is a good reason to buy the natural paper products like paper napkins, paper towels, and paper plates by Seventh Generation.

Seventh Generation Paper Towels, Natural, 2-Ply Sheets (Pack of 30) [Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging]

Seventh Generation, White Lunch Napkin 1-ply 250 count
While we are both very pleased with our composting bins, there is one little detail that we missed when we set them up.  We tucked them away in the NW corner of our yard.  While this area baked in the sun and made compost quickly in the fall, in the winter it is the shadiest and coolest part of the yard.  When we empty them next time we will move them to the SW corner of the house where they will bake in the sun year around.

We enjoy the outdoors and take pride in the fact that our yard is full of birds, squirrels, and other animals.  We see butterflies, dragon flies, honey bees, lady bugs and other beneficial insects.  We want to nurture that natural eco-system.

I was always worried about the safety of using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, so one day I did some research on my own. Based on that, we decided to use only natural products in our yard here in the Houston area and on our 30 acres in the Texas Hill Country.  Using compost is a natural way to get organic material, minerals, and good bacteria into the soil.  I think we made the right decision for us because it is a system that we can maintain long term and feel good about it - that's sustainable.