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Composting Tips

Healthy Home 2008, Spring 2008

Composting is one of the best things you can do for your yard -- and for your local landfill. According to the EPA, yard waste and food scraps make up 24 percent of U.S. municipal waste, which ends up in landfills. This same trash -- such as grass clippings, coffee grinds, and vegetable peels -- can provide a constant source of fertilizer and soil conditioner for your yard. Compost also helps make soil more absorbent, reducing the need for watering. Plus, the composting process is easy, inexpensive, and a great way to add nutrients back into the garden.

Even if you don't have your own compost bin, save grass clippings and old leaves; local municipalities recycle yard waste. If your city doesn't have a curbside program, visit to find drop-off sites.

More Careful
Make your own compost. A number of containers available at your local hardware store or nursery can be used to transform yard scraps, vegetable waste, and paper products into "black gold" in six to 12 months. Choose a sunny spot in the yard for the bin -- the heat will help microorganisms break down the garbage more quickly. Alternate layers of paper, dried leaves, and twigs (brown waste) with garden clippings and appropriate food scraps (green waste). You should have twice as much brown waste as green. Keep the pile moist and stir occasionally.

Most Careful
Treat your garden to a spot of tea -- compost tea, that is. This earthy brew of compost steeped in water can be sprayed directly onto plant leaves or applied to the lawn, which will increase the beneficial bacteria available to entire plants and the soil. The tea is particularly helpful if your soil is damaged from chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Comments (4)

  • 22 Dec, 2009

    The Composting 101 article says to place the compost bin in a partly shady location, yet here it says to place the bin in a sunny location. Which is it? Why isn't there a consistent answer?

  • 1 Mar, 2009

    As I live in the city and hay is not so available nor desireable,I am going to try a used rubber maid plastic container with the lid and punch holes in the bottom, sitting on top of the lid that came with it, then layer and leave in the sunny spot in my yard. Can you add fruit too? Can you add it during the year while you are waiting for it to break down? Where do you get the worms "null"?

  • 15 Nov, 2008

    Are those hay bails in the picture or do I just need my eyes checked ?

  • 11 Aug, 2008

    what a perfect idea for a compost bin. going green is something everyone should do as their part in survival of the planet. I was having such problems with the 2 men of the family understanding what I wanted, in so much as the type of bin I wanted. MSLO made it real easy. All I had to do is hit print and problem resolved and everyone, especially me. Once again thanks Martha.