Thursday, May 5, 2011

Crazy for Composting

Anyone who knows me knows I'm crazy for composting.  It's actually a favorite hobby of mine-turning garden waste into black gold.
Here's a couple of facts to keep in mind-24% of what we throw away each day can be composted.  That's almost 1/4 of our trash each and every day.  Annually, composters keep 529 lbs. of home and garden waste out of our landfills. Think of all the "trash" that would be kept out of the landfills if every house had a compost bin.  If that isn’t enough reason to compost, how about this: compost improves soil structure and water holding capacity, repairs damaged soil, increases earthworm activity, suppresses disease and keeps plants healthier. It's also one of the best ways to return to the earth what we have taken out, insuring the success of future harvests.
At present, I have 7 compost bins, 3 worm composting bins, 2 compost tumblers and a never ending need for more finished compost.

My very first compost bin, with a box of seedlings growing on top

3 compost bins in a side yard

A compost bin next to the kitchen door

A compost bin by the back door

A worm bin next to my front porch steps

                                                              My first worm bin
As hard as I try to keep the bins full, it's tough to keep up with the demand for organic materials.
I've had to get creative in my effort to score as much organic waste as possible.

It would take forever to fill a bin with just my kitchen scraps

Kitchen scraps from the restaurant where I work

I arrived at work early just to sweep up some of the leaves from the parking lot

Mulched branches and leaves from our avocado tree.  The tree was pruned
by professionals and all of the materials were left on site

Magnolia pods from the tree in our front yard.  They also work great as a base for raised planters

My electric mulcher, edger and leaf mulcher. 

Junk mail and personal info go in to the shredder before being added to the compost bin.

To those who think they don't have enough garbage to have a compost bin, YES you do! You have more than enough stuff.  All of us have enough stuff.  Get creative.  Ask friends and family for help.  Visit a Starbucks or Seattle's Best and bring a container to take home coffee grounds.  Rake your neighbor's yard (if they don't use pesticide's) or sweep up the streets for leaves.  Ask friends and family for grass clippings (untreated with herbicides).  You can do it.
It's fun to see what you can come up with once you start looking for it. 
Be well and happy gardening!

Follow up:
Great messages below!  What to do with all of the paper that comes into the household was a really important question to me, and I spent some time on the internet researching the best ways to deal with it.  According to a very comprehensive report done in the UK, the most environmental way to “dispose” of paper waste, in order is:
1.       Compost
2.       Recycle
3.       Incinerate
4.       Landfill
Using this as a guide, I separate paper products for different reuse.
Tissues, paper napkins, receipts, etc-compost, use with kindling for a fire in the fireplace
Newspapers-base for raised beds, worm composting material, occasional donation to school or scouts
 Envelopes-scratch paper, shred for compost bin (remove plastic windows)
Non-sensitive paper-reuse in printer, shred for compost bin
Sensitive paper-shred for compost bin
Plain white paper (no print)-set aside to reuse in homemade paper seed cards (upcoming Fall blog)
Non glossy junk mail-shred and add to the compost bin, add as a layer to a raised bed (Lasagna gardening)
Glossy junk mail-recycling bin
By the way, dispite the above methods, the use of cloth napkins and hankercheifs, and having my name removed from mail marketing lists, I still accumlate a great deal of paper.  I don't know why that is, or how we haven't progressed to a treeless world, but it's just the way it is.  I guess it's time for another compost bin and raised bed.


  1. I'm so impressed, and your pictures are great.

  2. You've been busy! Great ideas!

    I'll be back to find out what you're up to!

    Plant Lady

  3. Do you have any suggestions for shredded junk mail? I usually shed it and take it to the recycle center not far from my home. They pay cash for the shredded material. However, if I can use it in my garden, I would be open to any suggestions.

  4. Do you put the shredded paper in your compost bin?