Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day - Composting

I'm not much of a gardener but I compost.  It's very satisfying to take kitchen scraps, shredded newspaper and the contents of my dryer's lint screen (yes! lint is compostable) and somehow magically turn it all into rich loamy dirt.
It's almost as amazing as watching seedlings grow.  Mother Nature - she's so crafty.

Compost is good stuff - it dramatically improves soil quality not just in nutrients but also in pH, structure and water absorbing abilities.  And it isn't just for vegetable gardening.  I use it to top off my potted plants, enrich the soil around my trees, bushes and other landscaping plants.

Bromeliads love compost too.

But mainly I compost because it cuts down on the volume of trash that gets trucked to the landfill.  Along with recycling, composting has drastically reduced the amount of trash our little household generates on a weekly basis.  Less trash means less fuel used by the garbage trucks and the landfill bulldozers.  And of course, less trash to occupy our already burgeoning landfills.  (Florida is so flat that if you see any kind of hillock, you're probably looking at an old landfill).

Twin composting bins

You can buy all sorts of compost bins but after doing a little internet research, I made my own with a plastic garbage can and a drill.  Not only was it one of the most inexpensive options out there, it meant that I could easily move the bin in case of a hurricane warning.  Compost pile as hurricane projectile is just not a good idea.   I made two so that after I filled one, I could invert the contents into the second bin thus giving me access to the finished compost at the bottom of the heap.

newspaper, onion skins, egg shells, etc.

It's not pretty but it works.  People always ask me about the odor.  I keep the bins right next to our patio door for easy access.  The lid helps contain any smells and insect activity.  As long as I keep the contents well balanced (brown vs. green) and keep out any meat and dairy, no one ever seems to notice.  Although once one of our neighbors asked the Yarn Widower why on earth his wife was rolling a garbage can around the yard. (For aeration of course!)

fruit salad for the compost bin

Indoors, I keep a compost pail for random kitchen scraps.  I always line it with shredded newspaper so that it's easy to empty out later.  I got mine for $15 at my local Homegoods store.  It comes with a replaceable carbon filter in the lid.

Composting Resources:


  1. was thinking yesterday that the Bromeliads would make good pictures on your blog..... you read my mind.

  2. Great post - really helpful stuff for a newbie to composting!

  3. Thanks, this sure will come in handy when I move in to my new house next month! Can't wait to start composting and sharing this activity with my kids...they do love dirt!

  4. Very nifty composting solutions :)
    I was wondering if you happen to know anything more about composting newspapers. I just sort them together with cardboard and cartons etc; I've always been a bit too timid about composting newspaper because of all the sh*t that's in the ink; i.e. I wouldn't want to use newspaper compost on edible plants. Do you?

  5. Tiigerliilia, that's a really good question. Supposedly, the inks that are used nowadays have minimal toxicity see

    I do compost newspaper but I predominately use the compost for landscaping and not for growing edibles. You can always call up your paper and ask if they use soy-based inks which are supposed to be safe.

    Hope that helps!