One of my favorite ways to do a little part for the planet is to compost. I began this venture because I wanted to make the plants in my garden a little happier. I also thought that in the process of helping my garden grow, it would be cool to lessen the trash that I put out in the street or squish down the sink pipes each week. Yeah it may be a little gross on first contemplation, but there are ways to manage it so it isn't such a messy endeavor. What I do is have a little airtight bucket under my sink in the kitchen. Each time I cook a meal that involves vegetable ends that get cut off, egg shell leftovers, or coffee grounds from my coffee maker, I take those leftovers and put them in my little bucket. When the bucket is full I take it out to my backyard and in the corner of the yard I dump it in a compost bin. The city of LA offers really affordable bins that are $20 on sale if you go to their workshops.
Check out this site:
To get one on the cheap and begin your road toward happy plants in your backyard.
But why is composting great, besides helping your garden out? Did you know that of all the trash that we humans output, 25% is comprised of yard waste and food scraps. That is about 63.5 million tons of waste per year in the United States alone. And through recycling your organic waste each year, you are joining a force of people who are preventing the release of approximately 49.7 million metric tons of carbon into the air --about the same amount emitted annually by 39 million cars!
So now that you are all siked on it, you might wonder what exactly goes in a compost bin? Anything plant based is great! I have found that you can put stuff like flour in or bread or pasta, but I wouldn't recommend it. The flour and breads tend to create a weird consistency. Stick to vegetables, fruit peels, egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags, Halloween pumpkins and paper towels. Paper towels are a great thing, but if you have some cleaning fluid chemicals on them, then skip it. You don't want to put any chemicals in your compost if you can avoid it. And then there is the obvious stuff in your yard like leaves and dirt and grass clippings. Those are all great. You want to try and get a lot of variety in there. So once you have your big compost bin at least halfway full, it is a good practice to overturn the soil every couple months so that everything breaks down faster.
There are a couple things to steer clear of when creating the perfect compost soil for your plants...Do not ever put meat products in (not including egg shells). Fish, chicken, pork and cow meat will attract some nasty bugs including maggots that are not good for compost and also emit a smell so rotten and horrible, you will want nothing to do with composting ever again. So be sure to never put meat in your compost bin. Do not put tree branches in your compost. They take way too long to break down. I would also stay away from leaves from trees like magnolias, or rubber trees (where the consistency of the leaf is thick and waxy with lots of fibers). These kind of leaves take forever to decompose and you would be waiting a couple years before they would break down.
So there you have it in a nutshell. To learn more about starting a compost, check out some of these sites: