Turning Kitchen Scraps Into Garden Gold and Reducing Waste

Compost kitchen scraps instead of throwing them into landfills. Compost is an effective way to reduce waste while providing nutrient-rich soil amendment that supports healthy garden growth.

Reducing waste is the first step of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Smart shopping practices, such as purchasing secondhand or repairing items, can help minimize waste production.

Make a Compost Bin

A practical and cost-efficient solution to keep food scraps out of the trash while saving money on trash bags, creating an organic soil amendment, and decreasing methane emissions is to make your compost bin.

As previously discussed, using a trash can or empty bucket for this task requires regularly emptying and covering with an airtight lid to keep out smells and pests. Another alternative would be purchasing or making one yourself from BPA-free plastic or ceramic countertop pails that you can place beneath your sink—these can be found at home and garden stores and are constructed out of old kitchen containers.

If you prefer a more straightforward approach, use an outdoor bin or search for drop-off sites in your area. You could also bury one with holes cut into its sides to allow natural decomposition by worms.

An integral component of successful compost piles is to allow enough airflow. To do this, drill 10-12 evenly spaced holes in the bottom of your bin to allow microorganisms responsible for breaking down organic matter to thrive and thrive in your compost.

Fill your bin about 1/8 to 1/4 full with dry leaves or paper (the “browns”) as a starting point, followed by evenly split food scraps and yard waste (the “greens”), before topping off with dirt, including some coarse materials like twigs or branches for even distribution.

As you add new materials, stir or roll your compost pile to mix the contents and introduce oxygen; this will speed up decomposition. After adding all the necessary ingredients, let it sit for several weeks to aerate and warm up before returning it to your garden as nutrient-rich plant food.

Cold composting offers another convenient alternative for those with limited space who don’t want to deal with turning or monitoring the pile. Simply layer browns and greens together and let nature take its course. While this may take longer, it provides an alternative for those wanting an eco-friendly option in limited spaces.

Build a Worm Bin

Those looking to maximize the use of their kitchen scraps should invest in a worm bin. It can easily be assembled using various materials like cedar or redwood that will weather well over time. Avoid pressure-treated lumber, as this contains chemicals that leach into vermicomposting and are harmful to worms.

Use a drill or screwdriver to drill holes into both bins for drainage purposes. This allows excess liquid to drain away quickly so your bin doesn’t become overflowing. Worms excrete an invaluable liquid known as “worm tea,” which serves as an excellent fertilizer in your garden.

Put several inches of bedding, such as newspaper or unbleached paper towel, into a tall bin and moisten it with water before filling half of it with potting soil to provide microorganisms essential to the process and help keep the bedding dry and airy while also helping prevent fruit flies from breeding in it.

Fill the rest of your bin with worms. They need regular nourishment, so aim to feed them one cup of kitchen scraps every week by burrowing it beneath their bedding. Chopping food before adding it will speed up its breakdown and allow your worms to snack more easily; Starbucks coffee grounds make a delicious treat (ask).

Cover food scraps with bedding and some shredded paper to prevent exposure to fruit flies and ensure their proper disposal by the worms. Covering also keeps the bin warm and humid – two critical aspects for their well-being.

Over one month, your kitchen scraps will have been fully decomposed into nutrient-rich worm castings that provide valuable black gold to your garden. Keep in mind that this process takes longer than composting in one bin due to worm migration upwards into other bins over time.

Add to a Composting Pot

No matter our best efforts to reduce food waste, scraps of food may still accumulate. But rather than tossing them away as trash, carrot tops, coffee grounds, banana peels, and shriveled berries could become garden gold by being turned into fertilizer for home vegetable, herb, or fruit gardens.

Composting is a straightforward process: layer brown and green materials alternatingly within either an official compost bin or even just an adapted garbage can with holes drilled for air circulation, such as leaves, straw, or newspaper (brown materials) with kitchen scraps (like vegetable and fruit peels) until decomposition begins to transform them into nutritious soil.

Once your kitchen scraps have been placed into the compost bin, cover them with a thick layer of dirt to allow bacteria and fungi to do their work and decompose into fragments that plants can readily absorb. It usually takes one month before all kitchen scraps have fully decomposed into this nutrient-rich black earthy treasure often known as “garden gold.”

Compost can meet your garden’s needs and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from trash incinerators and landfills. Regularly making and using homemade compost in your yard and gardens may even reduce waste generation by as much as 25%!

Egg shells, tea bags, and unbleached paper towels are great items to include in a compost pile, while meat, dairy, and oil should not be added as these attract pests and unwanted bugs to your bin. Once the compost is ready, an easy way to assess its effectiveness is by digging up a handful and spreading it across a garden bed or plant bed to see whether it’s impactful. If the soil appears rich and healthy after applying your test batch, it indicates your compost is doing its job!

Add to a Garden Bed

Composting kitchen scraps in a garden bed is the optimal method for recycling them into compost soil. You can purchase or build a compost bin, dig out an area large enough to accommodate a garbage can, and start layering your materials as per traditional compost pile methodology. A conventional compost pile requires both brown materials, which provide carbon, and green material, such as food scraps or coffee grounds, to create its base layers – layer them together while frequently turning so your pile receives oxygenation – before it has fully matured over six to twelve months before being ready for use by plants either directly in vegetable gardens or houseplants!

Sheet mulching, in which kitchen scraps are directly buried in the garden, is another great option that benefits fruit trees, berry patches, and vegetable gardens that get plenty of sun. Not only will the extra nutrients from decomposition benefit these gardens, but organic matter also helps retain moisture levels to prevent unwanted plants, such as weeds, from growing around your vegetable crops.

Before burying your scraps in the ground, keep in mind that they will consume oxygen as they break down, so wait at least two or four weeks after burying before planting anything there. Also, ensure your scraps have been completely broken down without bones or other pieces that might harm plants nearby.

Wood chips can help improve the C:N ratio and accelerate the composting process. They increase the C: N ratio while hastening the breakdown of brown materials such as paper bags, egg cartons, or tree bark. Shredding them also speeds up the breakdown. Other excellent brown materials include twigs, straws, and sawdust.

Leave a Comment