How To Compost Kitchen Scraps
Kitchen composting is quickly becoming more popular, because people are realizing there are so many things that come from our kitchen’s which don’t need to be thrown away. In fact, using these scraps for composting can save us money, allow us to become a little more self sufficient over time, and help improve the environment too.
Kitchen Composting Saves Money
Anyone that grows an indoor or outdoor garden most likely finds themselves buying potting soil, fertilizer, and maybe even pre-made compost each and every year. By using materials you already have in your kitchen, you can stop spending your hard earned money on those things and you’ll get the bonus effect of knowing you’re only using healthy, organic materials in your plants and garden.
Kitchen Composting Helps You Become Self Sufficient
Once you start composting your kitchen scraps, you’re likely to find yourself also wanting to grow more of your own food. After all, if you’re creating nutrient rich soil that will grow the best fruits and vegetables, why in the world should you want to pay for sub-par produce at the grocery store?
By growing some or all of your own food, you create a more sustainable situation for yourself and your family. Instead of worrying about whether you have money to buy groceries from one week to the next, you’ll find yourself with an abundance of tasty, fresh food for many months of the year.
You don’t have to become a farmer to become a little more self sufficient either. Anyone can grow food inside their homes with container gardens, or outside in the yard with small garden plants.
Kitchen Composting Helps The Environment
Many people are finally starting to realize some of the major benefits brought about when they take the small step of creating compost out of their kitchen scraps. For too long now we’ve lived in a throw away society. Even those things which can be reused or recycled tend to get thrown into the trash – including organic matter which is easy to compost.
This creates a cycle which demands the constant creation and manufacturing of new goods. And it encourages commercial farmers to use dangerous chemicals as fertilizers and pesticides. The simple act of creating compost out of your kitchen scraps helps to dramatically reduce some of these pollutants in our world… especially as people start growing their own foods too. Using your own homemade kitchen compost means you will no longer be buying or using dangerous chemicals in your own gardens, and as time goes on you may even be able to reduce your consumption of store bought produce too. And the less we all buy of that, the less it will be mass produced and distributed.
Getting Started With Kitchen Composting
Anyone can start composting in their kitchen right now. All it takes is a container with a lid. Now there are plenty of commercial composting buckets, pails and bins you can buy of course – and there are even kitchen composter devices you can buy too. These are conveniences only though. They’re not required.
As I already stated, all you need is some sort of container with a lid. The size of the container you use will depend on what all you will add to the compost pile, how large your family is, and how much food you eat.
Easy compost bins I’ve used to start with in the past include: A glass storage/canning jar, a plastic ice cream bucket, an old insulated picnic cooler, and generic storage bins bought at places like Walmart.
By sitting a small container, bucket, pail or jar off to one side on the kitchen counter, you’ll be able to easily grab it to add things to as you’re cooking.
What Kitchen Scraps To Add
The kitchen scraps you choose to add to your compost pile will vary based on your family, your compost capacity, and your goals.
Most people who are limited on space for the compost piles tend to only add organic fruit and vegetable matter to their compost. When you’re cutting up an apple for example, the core and stem can be added to the compost bucket. Potato peelings can too, onion skins, tomato tops, etc.
Anything left over from fruits or vegetables – even if it’s already started going bad – can be added to your kitchen compost bucket.
Coffee and tea grounds should also be added to this bucket, because these make rich fertilizers. In fact, I’ve made kitchen compost with only coffee and tea grounds in the past and it works wonderfully. You can add the tea bags, strings and all, plus you can add the coffee filters too.
Paper is a wonderful addition to compost piles but not everyone adds much of it, particularly in the kitchen. I tend to toss in the paper package tea bags come in, and I’ll even tear up the cardboard box and add it to the compost bin too.
Now, most people will tell you not to add dairy products, cooked food, or meat products to your kitchen compost. I believe the primary reason for this is because you can end up with much more stink and smell when you add these things. Fruit and vegetable matter don’t really smell when they’re decomposing, but meat and milk do. These items can also draw the attention of bugs and mice.
I personally believe anything that can rot is fair game for adding to the compost pile. Admittedly I’ll toss the stinky stuff in the outside compost pile though, instead of putting it in the kitchen bucket. Compost only those items you’re comfortable composting, and you’ll be fine.
What Can’t Be Composted
There are things that cannot be composted though, so these cannot be added at all because they don’t break down and decompose. These are usually man made materials. Metal cans for example, won’t rot away and create compost for you, and neither will plastic bags or bottles.
Getting Finished Compost
If you’re using small jars or buckets to put your kitchen scraps and organic waste into, you’ll find that it needs to be emptyed once in awhile. Some families need to empty the kitchen compost bucket several times each week while others get away with just doing it once a week.
To empty your kitchen compost container, simply dump it into a larger compost bin. This bin can be tucked away into the corner of the pantry, closet, or utility room if you don’t have a yard to put it in. If you do have outdoor space though, put a larger compost bin, tumbler or container outside. This way when you need to empty the kitchen scrap bucket, you can simply dump it into the larger one.
As the kitchen scraps break down and decay, they’ll take up much less space too. So even if it looks like your compost bin is starting to get full fast, you’ll notice in just a few weeks that it’s broken down and is taking up 1/2-1/3 or less space.
Getting finished compost can take time. There are a variety of things that come into play with the process, including what types of material you add to your compost pile, whether or not you’re adding compost activators, how much air the compost is getting, and whether or not you’re turning it regularly.
None of the above is actually needed to make compost. If you leave the compost pile to sit untouched, you’ll find it rich and ready in about a year. If you decide to take some of the steps to speed things up though, you can have some of the compost finished and ready to be used within 4-6 weeks.
Originally published April 2009
You’ll Also Like…