Thursday, February 11, 2010

Composting Choices

I have never done my own composting, but am happy that my garbage collector is now allowing me to compost all my food scraps and soiled paper along with my yard waste. I'm no expert, but a friend asked me how to get started so I did some quick research for those of you that are wanting to compost. It's a great way to get all those nutrients from our food back into the ground. Who knows, maybe I'll jump on the bandwagon eventually...

Compost binImage by hockeyshooter via Flickr

There is essentially a continuum with the low-cost, needs-a-lot-of-space version on one end and the high-cost, small-area versions on the other. A Recycling Revolution provides some straightforward pros and cons of each to help you decide which is right for you. The lowest cost method is simply a compost pile, but this requires a decent sized yard and some tolerance for "wildlife" (I translate that into rats in my area, but I imagine wildlife varies by location). On the other end of the spectrum, you can purchase all kinds of bins that spin, toss, and circulate your compost. The middle of the road options include build-your-own compost bins and cone structures that can be partially inserted into the ground.

If you're ready to start composting, here are some options:
* If you want to build your own, check out Seattle Tilth has some great online directions on everything from compost bins to worm systems.
* If you want to buy a compost container, a good first step is to check with your local utility. For example, Seattle residents can purchase a "cone" system for $25.
* Check local nurseries or hardware stores. Since I have a lot of Snohomish County readers, I checked with two local stores - Wight's Home & Garden and Emery's Garden both expect to be receiving their bins in about another month. The Home Depot also has one for $179.

The friend that asked me about this is hoping to work with her local grocery store to get their damaged or spoiled produce. She asked what they do with it and was disappointed to hear that it all goes straight to the garbage. If all goes well, they're hoping to offer the compost to neighbors - a great family project!
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