Let’s Talk Compost

I grew up in my Italian grandmother’s tiny kitchen. Out of that small space she would regularly create incredible meals for 40+ guests. It all seemed so natural. You really don’t need a lot of space, if you use it well.

One of the lessons I learned from my grandmother in that tiny space was to use a little bit of it for a compost bin. The laundry room was right next to the kitchen so grandma would keep a bin on the dryer and put the food scraps in it. Once it was full, she would transfer it outside.

What to Compost

Items you can compost from your kitchen include ~

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Nut shells

Other common household items you can compost include ~

  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Leaves
  • Fireplace ashes
Compost Pile

Why to Compost

There are three main reasons to compost~

  • To create fertile soil
    • Composting enriches the soil and helps retain moisture which will suppress plant diseases and pests.
    • It also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • To close the loop (and give back to the earth that which was taken from it)
    • Composting encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
  • To work less
    • Composting is natural. When trees drop their leaves in the fall it is to isolate the roots. When we compost, we are following in Mother Natures example.

How to Compost in your Backyard

  • Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin. When your kitchen bin is full, transfer the contents to the outside bin.
  • Your compost pile should have an equal amount of greens to browns. Greens includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds. Browns are materials such as dead leaves and twigs or small branches.
  • Keep everything moist, it will break down faster than if it stays dry.
  • Turn the contents of your bin or pile over regularly.
  • Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
  • When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years.

In the Phoenix Metro area, the city will provide you with a compost bin for a nominal fee. You can read more about it here. Don’t live in Phoenix? Search your cities website for composting resources.

If you have a garden, do you compost? You should. Your garden will thank you ~ literally thank you with a much better crop!