Composting: The How-To & Benefits

Composting is one of the easiest things you can do, and its benefits are far-reaching for anyone interested in green living. If you live in an apartment, you may think that starting a compost pile would be too messy, too smelly or just not possible.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With minimal investment and time, anyone can start their own compost bin in just a few easy steps.

Why compost?

This is probably the first question you would ask yourself, before starting to build a compost bin, so we’ll answer it now. The two main benefits of composting are that it reduces the trash that gets thrown out and gives you fertile, usable soil. Compost consists mostly of food waste, so instead of putting your coffee grounds and eggshells in a dumpster, you are using it to make compost.

Getting started

First you will need a bin with a cover. You can use a large trashcan or a ceramic container. Both can easily be found in most home improvement stores. Next, drill holes in the lid and in the base of your container. Compost needs air, and the holes provide ventilation. Then, put your container on some kind of tray. If you set your bin up on a balcony, you don’t want any drainage falling on your neighbors!

Prepping your bin

You can’t just start throwing food waste in. You’ll have to prepare the bin first. Start by layering the bottom of the bin with some old newspaper strips (that you have soaked in water). Next, pour in a layer of soil (maybe a fellow composter can give you a bit to get you started, if not, buy a small bag). Finally, pour in some earthworms. Yeah, it sounds gross, but when it comes to compost, worms are your best friend. How many worms? A good rule of thumb is a pound of worms for every square foot of space in your bin.

Bring on the food

Now you are ready to toss much of your food waste into the bin. Fruits, vegetables, peels, skins, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds and coffee filters are all great. You can even add any leaves that blow on to your balcony or patio. Try to avoid putting dairy, meat, bones, animal waste and plastics.

Keep it up!

Now you just keep adding stuff to your bin and the worms will do the work. Every week or two, stir up the contents of the bin. After awhile, you will notice the compost is turning into soil. Once you have some good soil, you can use it for a small garden or a flower box. If you’ve got no immediate use for the soil, consider giving it to a friend or donating it to a community garden.


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