Composting for Dummies (myself included)

I have come to the conclusion that there are some subjects that I am ignorant of because of the lack of knowledge or experience.   And there some subjects that I am ignorant of because I just frankly do not care.  This is where self evaluation kicks in.  Why do I not care about it?  Am I being lazy?  Am I being selfish?

Okay, okay, what is the big deal that I don’t compost.  I do recycle and that should be enough, its not. And seriously, my idea is that it is nasty.  It stinks.  Bugs come.  Why would I want to compost?   Plus we only go through 3 bags of garbage a week (for a family of five that isn’t so bad right!?!?)  This is not conscious living, if this one family can make less of an impact then we should.

I was very proud of my weeding adventure (3 huge bag fulls of yard debris)- the garbage man took it away, but now I am regretful. Sending yard clippings to the land fill wastes space and according to the US Environmental Protection Agency… ‘In addition, as yard wastes decompose in landfills, they generate methane gas and acidic leachate. Methane is a colorless, explosive greenhouse gas that is released as bacteria decompose organic materials in landfills. If methane is not controlled at a landfill, it can seep underground and into nearby buildings, where it has the potential to explode. Yard wastes also contribute acidity that can make other waste constituents more mobile and therefore more toxic.”

Here are some of my findings:

US municipal solid waste consists of 30% yard clippings and food leftovers.  And the rest is paper, metal, and plastic.

Composting may be an easy solution for reducing household waste, limiting pollution, saving money, and creating a chemical free garden.  And could even create energy!?!

Basic rules in composting:

If the waste came from the ground, it can return to the ground.  Keep it moist but not wet, full sun, and turn often.

What to Compost – Yes please

  • Animal manure
  • Cardboard rolls
  • Clean paper
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Cotton rags
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Eggshells
  • Fireplace ashes
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grass clippings
  • Hair and fur
  • Hay and straw
  • Houseplants
  • Leaves
  • Nut shells
  • Sawdust
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Tea bags
  • Wood chips
  • Wool rags
  • Yard trimmings
The naughty list:
Leave Out/Reason Why

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
    • Releases substances that might be harmful to plants
  • Coal or charcoal ash
    • Might contain substances harmful to plants
  • Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs
    • Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
    • Diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
    • Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps
    • Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)
    • Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
    • Might kill beneficial composting organisms

So for now- I will be researching for a cheap eco friendly way to compost.  Any ideas on using recycled items for a compost bin? Any other ideas about composting are more than welcome.


10 thoughts on “Composting for Dummies (myself included)

  1. Thanks for the tips! Never thought I could compost dryer lint! I am just learning about composting and hope to get a bin soon.

    • I was surprised to see dryer lint on the list! I am just learning as well, what kind of bin are you going to use? maybe we can share in this journey of composting together….

  2. Pingback: Composting Tips – Coffee Grounds « Karinconway's Blog

    • Composting is a new thing for me, and there is still much to learn. Thank you, I will continue on and you keep on as well! Happy composting 🙂

  3. Thank you for this inspiring information. I haven’t been very lucky with a garden in the past. I will start a compost pile this year and hopefully it will make a difference in my garden as well as our environment.

  4. Amazing how much household rubbish can be composted, trouble is the kitchen bin manufacturers produce these mini efforts that need you to run out too often to the compost heap in the pouring rain. Make bins larger and easier to clean, I say. Thanks for visiting my blog. Great to make contact with others around the world and get their take on life.

  5. I had been researching composting and in due process learned a lot about quality compost. My goal was to work my way into producing quality compost “tea” for my plants. The tea trail took me through raw composting (like what you’re doing straight on the ground), to worm composting and even aquaphonics. The two, raw and worm, had a couple of things in common, the need to have a percentage of nitrogen rich ingredients to a ratio of carbon based, moisture, heat, air, and time. Aquaphonics, a totally different ball game, will be something for the future but defiantly something I will do on a small scale more than likely with crayfish. The process speed and quality you want from your compost depends on the conditions of your compost environment. The fastest and purest will be Red Wiggler worm processed. (Your boys would enjoy the ooey gooey of the worms). For the moment I will gather my materials and develop a new habit and condition my hubby to save veg/fruit/organic scraps. I have a compost pail in my kitchen now with a tight lid and have discovered that pure compost has the earthy smell of rich dirt. I think I am gonna like this and have grown excited about getting the home for my first batch of Red Wigglers all ready come spring after the semester starts. But for now I have a raw compost pile and enjoy the little walk out back and around the shop to toss the stuff. Though I am not sure what to do about the biggest opossum I have ever seen that I think I am feeding there. Well, one step at a time.

    • Thank you for your comment and insights Kathy!! I have a raw compost pile right now and for a few weeks I have been thinking about getting some crawlers to help the process. And yes, my boys love anything that has to do with worms! Where do you buy the Red Wigglers?

  6. Ack! Don’t put dryer or vacuum lint in your compost unless you want a bunch of synthetic fibers from your carpets, clothes, and blankets in your compost. Vacuum cleaners also pick up little pieces of plastic, styrofoam crumbles, bits of plastic tape, and tons of junk of unknown origin. The actual volume of those materials is very small, so it won’t add appreciably to your garbage or the landfill, but it will contaminate your garden.

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