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A Guide to Composting

Last week, we spoke about expiration dates and when to get rid of food. The best way to expose of food that has gone bad or inedible food scraps is through composting.

Composting food keeps it out of landfills and can help fight climate change.

It is also possible to compost even if you don’t have a backyard or outdoor space. There are indoor composting methods and there may also be a composting pile at your local community garden. You can compost all year round and once the compost is mature, you can use it to grow plants.

Here is a guide to composing at home!

Composting bins

First, decide which form of composting works best for your living space. You can compost both indoors and outdoors.

You can make your own outdoor or indoor compost bin, or you can buy one for indoor or outdoor spaces.

What can you compost?

Almost all food scraps. This can include but is not limited to egg shells, fruit and vegetable scraps, and rice and grains.

Do not compost animal bones, meat and dairy products, oil and butter or food that has been cooked with oil or butter. Do not compose animal waste, yard trimmings with pesticides, disease or insect-ridden plants, or charcoal and coal ash.

You can even compost coffee grounds, tea bags, paper, cardboard, yard trimmings, sawdust and wood chippings, hair and fur, and fireplace ashes.

Be wary of products that say “compostable” on them as those are more for industrial composting systems.

Store the food scraps

Before you can compost them, you have to create a composting mix. You can store the scraps in an empty container, like a coffee can, until your composting mix is ready.

Making the compost mix

Composting requires two main ingredients: browns and greens.

Browns are things like egg cartons, newspapers, dried leaves, and pine needles. Browns are typically dry.

Greens are the food scraps, coffee grounds, and can include actual greens, like grass clippings. Greens are typically wet.

Layer the dry browns on the bottom of your composting bin with the wet greens on top. You always want more browns than greens. Once you have a layer of greens, add another layer of browns on top and start again. It is also recommended to mix the contents of the compost bin periodically, which can speed up composting. You can mix it less if you have the right ratio of greens to browns.

If your compost smells bad, that’s usually a sign that something is wrong and that the food scraps are not decomposing. Compost can take anywhere from six months to two years to mature. Once you have earthy-smelling, fluffy, dark, soil-like compost, you can then use it in your garden or a planter.

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