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Lawn & Garden

Get the Most Out of Compost

Composting isn't just for the people living off the grid anymore. Organic recycling can benefit any household, regardless of whether you're in a brownstone or barn. Still not convinced? We reached out to Jennie Lyon of Sweet Greens for even more advice.
Compost with Food Scraps and Yard Materials

 

Composting 101
To begin composting, gather your essentials. All you really need are food scraps (like vegetables and fruits), materials found in your yard/garden (like twigs, grass, and straw) and a little discipline. Start piling them together in your yard or compost bin and let nature take its course. If composting feels like a chore, Jennie suggests investing in a compost tumbler to make it a super simple part of your daily routine. Be sure to churn the pile every once in a while to make sure it’s getting the proper amount of moisture. After some time, the pile will decompose into organic matter that provides highly beneficial nutrients to your garden like nitrogen, copper, potassium and more.

Benefits to Your Soil
If it’s managed correctly, compost will be what experts call “crumbly,” or fluffy and airy in nature, allowing for more oxygen flow while still maintaining the ability to absorb water. Compost also releases nutrients slowly into the soil, rather than all at once like synthetic fertilizers. Adding compost to soil that’s predominately sandy or clay will drastically improve its ability to host plant life over time. You shouldn’t worry if your compost pile seems to shrink. According to Jennie, your finished compost may look like a lot less what you put in, but the soil will be denser and hold in water and nutrients more efficiently.

Attracting Critters and Deterring Diseases
Many people worry about the pests that may come from their new composting practice. While earthworms will speed up the decomposition process, compost will attract other pests and predators if not maintained properly. Jennie recommends avoiding fats, animal droppings, or any form of animal product in your new soil bed. These attract pests and can spread disease. Stick mainly with produce waste, coffee grounds (worms love them!), eggshells, and simple starches and carbohydrates.

Saving Water
Composting practices can help you and your family to conserve water. Since compost improves your soil’s water retention, you won’t have to water your lawn or garden as often, and you’ll reduce your water use when cleaning up after dinner. Many cities that heavily encourage at-home composting have seen noticeable drops in water usage.

Composting doesn’t have to be the daunting task many of us make it out to be; it helps the environment and your family, one scrap at a time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Jennie Lyon, Owner of Sweet Greens and Ahs Content Contributor Jennie Lyon is a green lifestyle writer and the owner of Sweet Greens, the award-winning green lifestyle blog. She posts on simple, fun ways families can go green together – starting with her own. When she isn’t blogging, you will find her busy at her virtual assistant firm, paddle boarding, sailing, beach-combing, camping, or spending time with her amazing husband and 14-year old son.


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