My 6 Year Old Has Started Wetting The Bed Again How Your Old Carrot Peels and Apple Cores Can Make You Healthier and Be Kind to the Planet Too

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How Your Old Carrot Peels and Apple Cores Can Make You Healthier and Be Kind to the Planet Too

You might think that throwing your carrot peels and apple cores in the trash has no effect because they will rot anyway. But even natural plant material can last for years when sealed in a plastic bag and thrown into a landfill.

As a great example of community responsibility, the city of Seattle, WA offers free compost bins to all residents. This keeps over 800 million pounds of trash out of their landfill! Not only can you divert your own kitchen waste from the dump, but you can create nutrient-rich humus for your own garden, whether it’s an acre or an old wine barrel on your patio.

Why should I COMPOST?

o More than 21 million tons of food waste is generated each year in the US. If this were composted, the greenhouse gases saved would be the equivalent of taking over 2 million cars off the roads.

o You will put valuable nutrients back into the soil and your garden will be healthier and your vegetables will be more nutritious for you and your family.

o You save money by not having to buy garden soil and mulching materials, and that saves the energy to transport these products to your store and to your yard.

WHAT IS COMPOST?

When organic matter such as leaves, vegetable scraps, compost, and garden waste decompose in a controlled environment (your compost bin), a rich and fertile humus is created that improves and fertilizes your garden soil.

Your plants are much healthier because:

o nutrition is added

o drainage is greatly improved, if your soil has a lot of clay

o if your soil is sandy, the compost helps it retain water

If your compost pile is cool, worms and insects will find their way into it and help turn your waste into food for your garden. But it helps to correct the conditions. Give these friendly critters plenty of air, water and food, and they’ll become your garden’s best friends.

IS COMMERCIAL COMPOST THE SAME AS “HOME MADE”?

Home compost is better for microbes and nutrient diversity, but bagged compost provides organic matter and some microbes. Note that compost may be mostly water by weight.

If you have a large garden where the soil needs extra nutrients, you may want to buy inexpensive bags of compost or bulk compost from a local commercial composter, then add your own compost as needed. .

If you are buying compost, keep in mind that there are no regulatory requirements for labeling compost in bags. Grade A compost sewage sludge is probably the safest, as it is the only type of compost that must be tested for heavy metals and pathogens before being approved for sale to the public. Feedlot compost is much less dangerous from a pathogen point of view, as no testing is required.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE?

Even if you only have a small apartment balcony or back porch, you can compost in a plastic bin (about 18 gallon size or larger). Drill or punch holes about an inch or two apart on both sides, in the bottom and in the top. Place it inside another slightly larger and shallower bin (the ones under the bed bins work well for this). Place some rocks or bricks between the two so there is room for air to flow. Add to your trash, and shake the bin every couple of days. If you have room for two, you can add to one for several months, then stop adding and start on the second. Continue to shake it occasionally until it is brown, crisp and earthy. You can use this fertilizer for small balcony plants, or even your house plants, if you don’t have space for a large garden.

WHAT WILL BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE THE COMPOSITE?

For good quality compost, mix materials that are high in nitrogen (such as clover, fresh grass clippings) and those that are high in carbon (such as dried leaves and straw). Moisture is provided by water, and fresh kitchen scraps, but you may need to add water to keep it moist. Turning or mixing the can often provides oxygen.

Your compost needs to breathe:

Without enough air, your compost pile will decay, but more slowly…and it will smell much more! So make sure you have plenty of room for air in your trunk. Straw works well to keep the pile from sloshing down. If you don’t have access to straw, make sure you break up any clumps and try to turn it with a spade or garden fork regularly to spread it out.

Your compost needs to drink:

You want just enough moisture to slightly cover every grain in your pile, providing the ideal environment for thirsty microbes. It should be as damp as a towel that has been thrown out. Wetter than this and it starts to smell. Your kitchen waste is usually moist enough, but if you are adding dry leaves from your garden you may want to moisten them slightly. If your lot is exposed to the elements, cover it with a tarp in rainy weather. Too much humidity can cause the temperature to drop inside the crate and make it smell. Not enough moisture prevents the tree from heating up and slowing down the decay process. Check the moisture level of your compost heap every week and change it if necessary. Add water to increase humidity, or add dry matter to dry it out.

Your compost must eat:

Your friendly compost bugs have two food groups… and it’s always best to mix the two if you can:

o Browns (Dry) – These materials are high in carbon and include straw, dry leaves, wood chips or ash, coconut shells, pine needles, vegetable stems and shredded cardboard or newspaper (avoid colored paper and ink). You may want to clean these up a bit as you add them to your compost pile.

o Greens (Wet) – These are high in nitrogen and include kitchen fruit and vegetable waste, green leaves and grass clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds, and even seaweed. Horse manure is good, but it is better if it is well aged. Check at a local stable.

Your compost must be warm:

If you live in a cold climate, your composting machine will most likely be on all winter. It will be in good shape as soon as the spring heat starts to warm it again. Compost does not need to be hot – 50% Fahrenheit is fine.

You may be considering a hot composter (110 to 160 degrees F), since the heat produces compost quickly (in weeks rather than months), and kills most seeds and plant diseases. However, studies have shown that compost made at high temperatures has less ability to suppress diseases in the soil. High heat can kill the beneficial bacteria necessary to suppress disease.

A LOT OF COMBAT

o Fresh and dry balance: Compost piles with a balance of one part fresh to two parts dry material break down the fastest. Place one packet of fresh material in the garden and place two bags of dry material over it. Then mix them together.

o Size: Compost piles that are at least 3 cubic feet (3 ft. x 3 ft. x 3 ft.) heat up faster and break down faster.

o Start your compost pile: If you are just starting your compost pile, add a handful of high quality garden soil to help start microbial activity in your compost pile.

o Mixing: If possible, mix the compost once a week to move material from the outside of the pile into it. This keeps the pile from compacting. (compression reduces air flow and slows down decomposition)

o Smell?: Healthy compost smells sweet – if your soil smells, it’s too wet. Turn it more often and add more dry matter to dry it out. When your compost is too wet, it deprives your pile of oxygen – which slows down the decomposition process and encourages anaerobic micro-organisms to thrive… increasing the stink! It may also smell bad if there is too much garden debris or kitchen waste in your mix. Bury it deep into the compost and add more dry matter.

o When it is ready: The compost should be dark brown, with an earthy smell, and soft to the touch. Compost at the bottom of the pile usually “finishes” first. You will know your compost is ready and ready to use when it no longer heats up and the original ingredients are unrecognizable. This usually takes 6 to 12 months.

o Nothing is happening!: If you notice that nothing is happening, you may need to add more nitrogen, water or air. Cold compost can take a year or more to decompose depending on the materials in the pile and the conditions.

o The compost pile is too hot: If your compost pile is too hot, you may have too much nitrogen. Add a little more carbon material to reduce the heating. A bad smell can also indicate too much nitrogen.

o It attracts flies and insects: Adding kitchen waste can attract insects. To prevent this problem, make a hole in the middle of the hill and bury the trash. Don’t forget… don’t add meat scraps or any animal matter, pet manure, diseased plant matter, herbs, fat or oil, or dairy products.

o Can I use fresh compost?: Don’t. This could burn your plants. Make sure that compost (NOT dog or cat feces) is very old before it goes into your garden.

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