Monday, March 26, 2012

The Garbage of Your Dreams

Soil is always a struggle here in New Mexico and now that it's gardening season you might be thinking about shopping for that expensive organic compost and/or fertilizer from the local garden store. That wonderful, magical mix that they sell packed into heavy plastic bags is something that every one of us can make for ourselves in our own back (or front) yards. This is also good for the environment as it keeps valuable organic waste out of landfills and into your garden soil. All it takes is a little bit of commitment and a lot of garbage.

What you need:

A bin- There are pre-made composting bins that are build for optimal air circulation and smell-insulation. Yes there can be a certain stinkiness involved in composting. You can, however, go the simpler and more affordable route and just get an old trash can. Make sure there are plenty of holes cut in the side for ventilation and a lid. Keep the potential smell in mind when deciding where to place your compost bin (i.e. don't place it right outside your front door). Also keep a small container in the house to keep your kitchen scraps in until they are ready to be taken outside. An old coffee can works great. You could also keep your "scraps" container in the freezer before taking it outside to cut back on odors inside the house.


The right kind of garbage is essential. You can't throw just anything into your compost. Organic waste is key. This can include banana peels, that bag of spinach that sat in your fridge too long, strawberry caps, used coffee grounds, raked leaves, grass clipping and other yard waste. Look here for a more complete list of compost materials. Also keep in mind things you should not compost items such as animal waste, meat or dairy products and other composting no-no's.  


After you have your compost going the only upkeep involved is regularly turning or stirring your pile and watering it often. The stirring will provide much needed oxygen flow to the microorganisms in your pile and the water supplies moisture that the microbes need to survive.

For more guidance on your composting adventure take a look at the our composting Libguide, or check out these books available through ABC libraries:

Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof

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