It also helps reduce the greenhouses gases your food waste emits rotting in a landfill. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150122-food-waste-climate-change-hunger/
When we throw our food waste into the trash, sending it to the landfill, it decomposes anaerobically, or rots, without oxygen. This puts off ten times more methane and more carbon dioxide, harmful greenhouse gases, than food waste decomposing aerobically, with oxygen, in a good, home compost system.
Leaves are an integral part of a good traditional system.
By using a combination of:
- yard waste, especially dead leaves for a carbon source
- food waste, like fruit, vegetables, and coffee grounds
- garden waste, with nitrogen rich biomass and clingy dirt full of working microbes
..we can create the perfect, local, organic fertilizer for replenishing our garden from all nutrients taken last season.
Traditional composting is basically just combining carbon, ‘brown’ material like dead leaves, and nitrogen, ‘green’ material such as food waste and garden waste, with oxygen, and a little water.
So, if you collect most of your leaves and store them next to your compost, it’s easy to layer, or ‘lasagna’, your food waste with dead leaves.
Here is the leaf compactor I made with some free bricks, a couple pieces of plywood and cinder blocks. I was able to compress almost a whole yard of leaves into that small space, a little at a time. The plywood in the back is important for protecting the house.
For my composter, I found a shop drawer on the side of the road with a ‘free’ sign on it. I put a lid on it with plywood and hinges then extended the divider. For one person this works well. It can be closed, which keeps animals out and keeps a little more heat in.
- I add food waste and leaves on the right side, to start the compost process.
- Then I use the left side to finish, continue to turn and add oxygen, and maybe water.
- I just use a shovel to turn it weekly, both sides separately, adding oxygen and combining the materials.
- Once a month or so, or when I need finished compost or more space, I take the bottom layer of the finished side out. I shovel the top layer into an empty bucket, then take the finished material from the bottom. I usually put it directly on the garden, wherever there’s space, throughout the year.
- Then I do the same to the right side, the ‘add food’ side. I put the top, newer layer into a bucket, and move the bottom layer to the finishing side. Then I dump the top layer from the bucket into the bottom now, add some leaves and it’s ready for kitchen waste.
I drilled holes in the bottom so that worms can get in and out and then I put it in a sunny spot for maximum warmth, both helping the compost process.
You can easily find instructions online for building compost bins, especially made with used pallets. Pallets work well because the gaps allow oxygen and you’re re-using materials.
There are so many ways to set up your compost system, from a store bought unit to multiple bay systems, just do what works for you.
Another benefit of having some type of compost system is that it reminds us of how much food we waste. Which helps me waste less.
I don’t put any meat in my compost. But I don’t eat too much meat and try not to waste any.
- Banana peels are bad about attracting fruit flies. Freeze your banana peels before composting them and they won’t attract fruit flies.
- Store bought composters work best when adding dead leaves with food waste also.
- Covering my composter with a blanket and black tarp helps to add and trap heat which also speeds up the compost process. This especially helps in the winter.