in the kitchen

don’t scrap your scraps — compost ‘em! here’s how.

June 22, 2019

When I first started googling how to compost, for whatever reason I got super confused.

Some people said you should compost this, or do that, or put it here, or blah blah blah.

Don’t get overwhelmed with composting — it’s super easy and simple!

I’ve gotten my info from personal experience, research andddd a lot of help from a dear friend of mine who is a farmer/gardener. (s/o to Dave!)

Here are a few steps in order to successfully compost from your kitchen! (even if you live in an apartment!):

GET A BUCKET AND A LID

There are loads of composting containers online and in stores that’ll use trendy marketing ploys to try and convince you to purchase their containers.

Don’t fall for it, fam! (I did, so if you did, you aren’t alone lol).

In the photo attached to this post, I have my trendy stainless steel composting bin I purchased from Target.

It was $20 and I thought it would look super cute on my counter. It had a charcoal filter on the lid that was supposed to prevent odor. There are holes in the lid that are covered by a charcoal filter.

And at first I loved it! It was pretty, easy to throw lettuce into and I really felt like I found the best bin around.

Buuttt then one day I noticed there were lots of flies near my bin. I didn’t think much about it.

I went away for a couple days and came back to find MAGGOTS IN MY COMPOST AND THE CHARCOAL LID.

Flies got through the holes / charcoal filter in the lid!

Bugs don’t typically bother me. But having maggots chill on my kitchen counter wasn’t really up my alley.

So we switched things up. We tried out a bucket instead.

We bought a 5 gallon bucket and lid (you can get these from The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or some other store where you can buy paint). Or honestly, ya might even have a bucket and lid in your garage!

Mike and I kept ours under our sink and every time it got filled with food waste, we’d drop it off at our friend’s house because he has a compost bin (another s/o to Dave!).

It’s a great route to go! But we noticed we still occasionally got gnats around our bin and the smell was a little rough sometimes.

Our new method? Remember that cute stainless steel bucket I talked about?

Now, we’re opting to toss our food scraps in there, but keep the bucket in our freezer!

You don’t need a cute bucket. In fact, you can just use a big bowl! Keep your container in the freezer and toss your banana peels and apple cores and egg shells in there!

You get zero smell — because it’s frozen!

WHAT GOES IN MY BIN?

Basically anything that would grow naturally…

Like fruits and veggies, egg shells and paper products.

Here’s a list of items you CAN compost:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and (most) filters
  • (Some) tea bags (not all… many tea bags actually contain plastic. Best to opt for loose-leaf tea!)
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and wool rags
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes

Here are things you shouldn’t compost:

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
  • Coal or charcoal ash
  • Dairy products (like butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt…) and eggs
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
  • Meat or fish bones/scraps
  • Pet wastes, such as feces and litter
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides

For an even larger list, check out this post here. Also this post just gives some super helpful info in general!

WHAT IF MY BIN GETS MOLDY?

It’s most likely going to grow a little bit mold. And that’s fine!

Don’t be alarmed when you see some green fuzzy stuff growing in your compost bin. That’s totally normal.

A way to help avoid that, though, is to add more paper products — like newspapers — into your bin. If you put a bunch of crinkled up newspapers as the bottom layer in your compost bin, the compost won’t become as wet, which won’t produce as much mold.

WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY COMPOST BIN IS FULL?

So, technically your bin isn’t compost. It’s basically like a holding cell until you can transfer your food scraps to become real soil.

Ask around to see if anyone you know has a compost pile. If not, contact a few farms — I’d almost guarantee they have a compost pile. Go to a farmer’s market and see if they’ll let you drop off your compost with them.

If none of that works, consider creating your own compost area somewhere outside. You can purchase a large container to hold your compost, or you can essentially dig a hole in the ground to keep your compost in. It’s called the trench method and it’s simple and easy to do. But for people who live in apartments — like Mike and me! — that’s probably not the best option. There’s a great article about composting / different options here.

I don’t have a lot of experience with having a real compost pile myself… but I’d be happy to do further research if you’re interested in trying it yourself!

Another way to compost on your own is to buy red wigglers — you can typically find those wormies at a local bait shop. I haven’t tried using worms, but I’ve heard great things! Wormies are amazing at creating compost!

HAPPY COMPOSTING! 🙂

Resources

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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