Home Compost

Why Compost

Composting is generated when organic matter is decomposed by microorganisms resulting in a nutrient rich soil.   Composting is a great and potentially cheap use for most of our food wastes.  The compost used for soil saves water by helping hold soil moisture. Compost converts curves potential landfill mass.  Reduces the need for fertilizers and their negative runoff effects. (University of Califorina) Done correctly the home gardener may never buy fertilizer again.  

How to Compost

You will want a dry shady area near a water source and away from trees.  By layering the small compostable items and adding small amounts of water, your compost pile should become established.  Once established make sure the compost is mixed everyone in a while with a pitchfork or shovel.  Once the compost becomes a dark color it should be ready to use.  Compost can take between two months and two years to be usable.  (EPA) It is important to remember to compost brown (sawdust, lawn trimmings, paper scraps) and greens (tea bags, coffee grounds & filters, produce waste).  Make sure to avoid adding dirt, ashes, meat, bones, dairy and manure.  These items may contaminate your compost or make it more appealing to rodents.  Adding any type of feces can increase the chances of a bacteria contamination

Is this for everyone?

If you have a garden, composting should be easy, you can buy bins at any hardware store for relatively cheap or even make your own. Out of lumbar and chicken wire.  If you are like many people who live in an


Three Step compost bin. New material is added on the left and as it decomposes the compost is transferred to the  right. (image from fine gardening)

apartment or town-home you can even compost inside.  Sustainable America has a great infographic of the specifics of apartment the compost.  (Sustainable America). It requires a two bin system that is power by red wriggler worms.  This is known as vermicompost.  If you don’t have a garden compost can be used around houseplants, or given to a friend or to a community garden (Growing Gardens is the community garden in Boulder).  Whether composting Inside or outside if done correctly there should be no nauseous smell or pests, so it truly is a win-win situation.  Composting not only limits the amount of waste headed to the landfill, it also provides healthy food for consumers and makes the lives of gardeners cheaper and less wasteful.

For for information about composting check out your local counties regulations, many cities have city compost that residents can use for their food waste.  



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4 responses to “Home Compost

  1. amyquandt

    Good specifics about how to compost. How important do you think composting is for sustainable food systems? Is it not better to just have no waste, if possible?


    • matthew elliott

      While having no waste whatsoever ever would be great. It is impractile, so if all packaging and use of food was all bio degradeable we would much smaller landfills.


  2. Kellen Merrigan

    Is composting yourself more sustainable than composting through the city? Sure, it reduces emissions from transportation. But I think the convenience of just throwing your compost into a bin and letting the city deal with it is more practical than everyone doing it themselves.

    When I started composting it took awhile to get into the habit. It’s easy just to through away scraps without thinking about it. I agree that people need to be more educated on the practice, but I think it needs to be introduced in baby steps and I believe that is through city-run services.

    Are there any policy ideas to incentivize or encourage composting?


    • matthew elliott

      Having a city run compost is great and very useful for those in apartments and other living situations, but due to the high capiticy of sources for that compost it becomes very poor quaility. Many uncompostable items enter the system. It can become so poor that city can’t even give the soil away. To maintain high quality home composting should be done.


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