by Rachel Pound, Garden & Education Coordinator
Have you ever looked at your produce fragments after preparing a meal and thought, “Oh, I hate throwing all of these scraps away!” Well then, home composing might be a solution for you. There are a variety of ways to compost at home and we have compiled a list below of a few of our favorite methods.
First, there’s composting with worms, yep, worms! These invertebrates are a great way to turn those veggie scraps into rich fertilizer for your garden. They are simple to get started and low maintenance, only requiring about 30 minutes of care a week. A large Rubbermaid container with air holes drilled in the top makes a great worm bin, or you can purchase a designated worm box or tower. Fill the bottom of the bin with bedding made from ripped-up cardboard or newspaper, making sure to avoid glossy paper. Your worm bin should stay inside, perhaps underneath a table in your kitchen, as outside air temperatures fluctuate too much and could harm the worms or invite unwanted pests. Worms can be purchased at The Flower Bin in Longmont, other garden centers, or local sellers you can find through marketplaces like Facebook. Add your produce scraps to the worm bin and mist with a water spray bottle. Be sure to check on the worms every day when you are first getting started. You want their home to be moist, but too moist and you will get bad bacteria growth and too dry and the worms cannot move to do their job. Wait about three months and then you can harvest those glorious worm castings to use as fertilizer in your yard or garden.
Another fun way to compost is to have an outdoor tumbler. These tumblers make turning the compost simple. The tumblers are typically dark in color to attract sunlight and keep the heat in. They are elevated so that there is no need to bend over or scoop with a pitchfork or shovel. Just like any compost, they require dry items like leaves, shredded paper, or cardboard pieces. Wet items can include produce, scraps, or grass clipping, although please use caution if your lawn is chemically treated. The tumbler will need to be turned every day (a great exercise for kids) and, like the worm bin, will also be most successful when a moist environment is maintained. The contents will break down faster in the summer and take longer in the winter. Stop adding items a few weeks before you are ready to harvest the compost as fertilizer to ensure that everything has had time to break down completely.
If neither of those methods sounds appealing to you or if patience is not your top virtue, there is another, more expensive, option. Starting at around $350 you can get a countertop electric composter. Your produce scraps can be processed in just a few hours and you will then have 2 to 3 pounds of ready-to-use compost.
Lastly, if doing your own composting won’t work for you, you can always befriend someone who has chickens, goats, or pigs! These animals are generally more than happy to eat scraps as long as they have not developed mold. Lettuce all compost and reduce our food waste together!
Rachel is the year-round Garden and Education Coordinator at Brigit’s Bounty Community Resources. She creates and facilitates all of the affordable youth programming, manages hundreds of volunteers, attends community outreach events, recruits volunteers, and manages the entire 1-acre Giving Garden. Rachel is integral to the success of the organization. Find out more about Brigit’s Bounty at https://www.brigitsbounty.org/