We know plants are important in our diet as they give the body nutrients. Where do these nutrients come from, and how do the plants we eat get them? Thinking back to elementary or middle school science class, plants need water and sunlight to grow. There is also one more important factor when it comes to growing plants – dirt! – plants need healthy soil. Compost can add nutrients and helpful bacteria and fungi to soil, which can further support plant growth.
Compost is made up of three different parts – browns, greens, and water. The browns group includes dead leaves, branches, twigs, and saw dust which provides a source of carbon. Greens provide a source of nitrogen and examples are grass clippings and fruit/vegetable waste. Water is needed to help with the breakdown process. If you’re looking to start composting, you will need all three in equal parts.
There are many different ways to compost. There are companies that create specific composting bins and containers for both indoor and outdoor use. You can also make your own from garbage bins or large totes. For indoor composting, worms are often used to aid in decomposition.
Food scraps and yard waste make up more than 30% of what is thrown away and ends up in landfills. Composting can not only enrich soil health but also lessen your carbon footprint. Although food scraps like fruit and vegetable waste make up a component of compost, some food scraps should be excluded. This is because certain items can create unfavorable odors and attract pests like rodents and flies. A successful compost pile/bin will not smell bad. See the lists below for what can and can’t be composted.
What can be composted:
Fruit and vegetable scraps Eggshells Coffee grounds and unbleached filters/tea bags Shredded newspaper/paper/cardboard Yard trimmings, grass, leaves Hay and straw, wood chips Cotton and wool rags Hair and fur Fireplace ashes
What can’t be composted: Coal or charcoal ash Dairy products Eggs Fats, grease, lard, oils Meat or fish bones and scraps Pet wastes Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides