The 9 Best Compost Foods and What to Avoid Composting
Look, it happens. You clean out the fridge and come across a bag of mashed grapes, wilted spinach, or a half-head of rotten cauliflower hidden in the back that you never had time to eat. Once the momentary guilt overwhelms you and the frustration of having to (once again) throw away the overdue products you paid for the grants, you start throwing the spoiled items in your trash.
Next time, before you throw it away, you might want to reconsider doing it – or rather, or you do it. Instead of the garbage, throw spoiled ingredients, food scraps and leftovers in your compost bin.
Food waste that ends up in landfills can contribute to alarming amounts of environmentally harmful methane emissions. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), approximately 30-40 percent of the food supply in the United States turns into food waste. Food waste is also the third largest source of human-made methane emissions in the country, accounting for around 14.1% of U.S. emissions in 2017.
There is a lot of work to be done when it comes to reducing food waste, starting with preventing it from happening in the first place. Composting food scraps and other spoiled ingredients is a great way to offset the impact of your own wasted food on the environment.
Whether you have a well-developed green thumb or are just starting to garden, composting can help keep your costs down. and Keep your beloved baby plants thriving, while reducing harmful methane emissions caused by wasted food. To make composting easier, we’ve rounded up the best compost feeds, along with other forages that can power your garden. and the planet with essential nutrients for rejuvenated growth.
The 9 best foods for compost
Most fruits, from apples and bananas to pears, grapes and berries, provide compost with lots of nutrients that will enrich your soil. As a general rule, most varieties can be added safely, depending on the type of composting system you have at home, although itFruits are better for composting than others. According to Jennifer Jewell, author of The Earth in her hands: 75 extraordinary women working in the plant world and host of the award-winning radio show and podcast, Place of culture: conversations about natural history and the human impulse in the garden, “If you have a small space and you use traditional outdoor composting methods rather than vermicomposting, that uses earthworms in a trash can – you may want to avoid fruits and vegetables that have very hard rinds or large seeds.
Fruits with large seeds like avocados and stone fruits (including peaches and nectarines) can take a long time to decompose and may not decompose at all. It’s fine to compost the fruit itself, but if possible remove the pit. In addition, some very acidic fruits, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, can affect the pH of vermicompost containers.
Vegetable scraps are among the best foods for composting. And yes, go ahead and compost them in any form: raw, cooked, or rotten. When cooking at home, making a habit of reserving leftovers (like the tops of leeks or kale stems for your compost) can help reduce your food waste footprint.
Nuts and cereals
Nuts, nutshells, and grains will all greatly benefit your compost ecosystem, as each of them can provide important nutrients to your soil. While items like hard pistachio shells can take several years to decompose, crushing them before adding them to the trash can help speed up the process and blend into the soil more evenly.
In recent years, commercial composting bins have become more common in businesses, especially in restaurants. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), American restaurants generate an estimated 22-33 billion pounds of food waste each year. But composting leftovers in your own kitchen is also a great idea, even if you’re cooking on a smaller scale. Go ahead and throw all your boneless vegetables, grains and pasta, as well as boneless cuts of lean meat and protein. Jewell recommends limiting things like “dairy products, oils, salad dressings or other fats to avoid hampering decomposition and living microbial activity.” In addition, the The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also recommends limit bones and leftover meat or fish, as they create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies (more details below).
Instead of throwing out the coffee grounds from your daily cup of coffee, Jewell recommends adding them (along with unbleached paper coffee filters) to your compost to help add nitrogen to the mix. Coffee grounds and filters will break down quickly within a few months in an active composting system. Some gardeners also suggest checking with your local cafe if they are willing to donate any used coffee grounds they no longer need for your composting. (Win-win.)
If drinking tea is part of your daily routine, you may want to consider saving the infused tea bags for disposal in your compost bin. Rich in nutrients and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen, tea leaves can help maintain moisture levels, increase oxygen levels, and increase the rate of decomposition. Note: It is important to make sure your tea bags are made from biodegradable and compost safe materials before adding them to your compost.
Using eggshells in compost adds minerals like calcium and other essential nutrients that are beneficial for plant growth, making this waste one of the best foods for compost. While it is not necessary to crush the shells before adding them to your composting container, Jewell recommends doing so, as it speeds up their decomposition.
To help balance out the wet, green, and nitrogen-rich materials in household scraps, Jewell suggests adding drier, carbon-rich yard waste like dry leaves, plant residue, and old soil to your compost. Balancing the humidity and organic material used will help prevent the compost from rotting or becoming too smelly, anaerobic, or dominated by bacteria.
Foods you should avoid composting
While most foods are safe to compost, others can invite unwanted pests or generate unwanted odors into your home. As mentioned, according to the EPA, dairy products and / or animal products such as butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt and eggs can create odor problems and attract parasites. Additionally, they note that fats, grease, lard or oils and meat, fish bones and leftovers can also potentially attract rodents and flies. Never compost the charcoal or the charcoal on your grill. Finally, avoid adding food waste potentially contaminated with harmful pathogens or bacteria that can disrupt the health of your compost. This also applies to pet waste.
What are the indicators that your compost is ready to use?
“Once your compost looks, feels and smells like crumbly, rough ‘earth’ – and not like food scraps or vegetable waste you originally put in it – it’s ready to use,” Jewell says. “The end product should retain and drain water just as well and have a good slant. That means it holds up well when wet and when squeezed in your hand, but it crumbles.” when you work it gently, well, it should smell earthy, ”notes Jewell.
How much compost should you add to your garden or plants at a time?
Indicators like leaf color and flower bud formation can help identify a plant in need of a nutritional boost, explains Jewell. Introducing your home-made compostable waste can help give your plants and your garden the nutrients they lack.
“I add a good two inches of compost around the drip line of my plants – often called top dressing – and then sink it a bit into the existing soil so it doesn’t wash off or build up. not at the top of the plant when you water them afterwards, ”she says. When it comes to frequency, Jewell explains that the requirements are different for each type of plant. “I tend to dress my perennials, like roses and sage, once in the spring and once in the fall with compost. I dress my potted plants twice a year, once in spring and once in mid-summer, with fresh compost from my pile. And of course, I dress my summer vegetables every few weeks during their peak growing season, ”explains Jewell.
The benefits of composting
Along with saving wasted food and enriching your soil, one of the main benefits of composting is that you know exactly what has gone into your healthy soil, and therefore your local plants and crops. Unlike store-bought soil that may be exposed to chemicals or pesticides, homemade compost is cheaper, healthier, environmentally friendly, and free from any plastic packaging.
“Compost mulch on your garden soil can help nourish plants, repel weeds, keep roots cool in the summer, and improve moisture retention in your soil, so you use less too.” of water. It’s a victory, a victory, a victory! Jewel exclaims.