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We have had a compost pile in our backyard for almost as long I can remember. Since I was little I was taught that any fruit or vegetable scraps, along with coffee and tea bags were to be thrown in our compost pile. Nearly every meal provides something to be added to our pile. Day after day after day, it’s amazing to see how our compost grows and decomposes. During the Spring, we spread the nutritious, growth-boosting compost all over our flowers, specifically covering our roses, to bloom a healthy flower collection.

You can purchase compost at gardening stores or hardware stores, but it is just as easy, not to mention cost-effective to make your own. It increases the health of your plants and also significantly reduces the amount of waste you contribute. Food waste is a massive problem, especially in richer, developed countries. Every year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted or lost, according to 2012 statistics published by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). So many things that we throw away can actually be composted, in turn reducing our waste by 50 – 75%! As earth’s landfills continue to become saturated, now more than ever, it’s time we find alternatives and more sustainable ways to dispose off our waste. Composting by far is the perfect way to reduce waste without totally changing our consumption patterns.

Furthermore, for those who garden, composting also does so much to benefit your soil. According to Compost Guide, “Compost loosens clay soils and helps sandy soils retain water. Adding compost improves soil fertility and stimulates healthy root development in plants. The organic matter provided in compost provides food for microorganisms, which keeps the soil in a healthy, balanced condition.”

To start composting you will need a compost bin. You can buy these bins for minimal money at hardware stores or online. You can also make your own bins out of old trash cans, wooden barrels or buckets. Moving right along, in your compost pile you should add items such as leaves, branches, twigs, grass clippings, fruit and vegetable peels, tea and coffee grounds: all sources of nitrogen which is essential for growing. You also want to have carbon sources such as newspaper and printer paper. Avoid fats or animal products because they will attract insects and disease. When developing your compost it is important to keep it aerated and moist. Be sure to add water a few times per week to make certain that it does not dry out. Also, turn and mix the compost every week, moving the dry material from the edges into the middle of the pile. This practice is a sure way to distribute air and moisture. Compost can finish breaking down in as early as one month, but could take up to four months. It should be ready when you can no longer distinguish the products you put in it. It should be a rich dark color and moist to the touch, without dry clumps.

Once it’s ready, use it as plant filler or put it over your flowerbeds before spring! This nutrient rich material will improve your garden and substantially reduce your household food waste!

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