Composting & Organic Waste
So what do you do when you’ve done all you can to Save the Food? Don’t toss it, compost it!
Composting is nature’s own recycling mechanism by taking organic discards and converting them back into valuable nutrients for the soil. Scraps from your kitchen can be turned into a rich, healthy soil amendment and used in your garden. Yard waste like grass clippings, tree trimmings and other organic items from your yard can be placed in the brown yard waste bin. It is hauled to Agromin's facility where it is processed into a high-quality mulch used on local agricultural fields.
For those who have a compost pile or bin, here are a few tips to keep it working at peak efficiency in the warmer months:
- Begin by starting your own compost system at home. In order for the composting process to work, there needs to be a balance of carbon-rich materials known as “browns” and nitrogen-rich materials called “greens.”
- Browns are dry, woody materials such as dry leaves, pruned bushes and newspaper.
- Greens include grass clippings, freshly cut weeds, flowers, food scraps, vegetable and fruit peels.
- The greens tend to be more prevalent in the summer months and can throw off the balance in the bin. Fallen leaves that provide needed carbon are easier to find in the fall and winter.
- Newspaper can work as a brown or carbon source but make sure it is not more than 10% of your compost pile by volume.
- A better option is corrugated cardboard torn into small pieces. This may be a good use of a pizza box or other stained or wet box that can’t be recycled. The corrugated texture traps air and aids in the composting process.
- Wood chips and straw are other good options.
- Check the moisture levels of your compost pile. It should be as wet as a wrung out sponge. Add water as needed. Although heat is necessary for the composting process to work, excessive heat can kill the microbes and worms.
- If you are using a black plastic bin in direct sunlight, check a little more frequently in the hot weather.
- If necessary, cover it with cardboard or other light material to keep it from getting too hot and dried out.This is a good time to use that compost to enrich your plants during the growing season.
- Use a screen to filter out large chunks of unprocessed pieces but it is okay if not every bit is totally finished before working it into the ground around your plants.
The City sponsors a compost and vermicompost bin discount program in partnership with Green Thumb Nursery where you can purchase either a worm bin or a compost bin at 50% the retail price. Just show proof of City residence and bring along your coupon below.
Free mulch is also available on a first come basis at Cornucopia Gardens, located just off Telephone Road, across from Kimball Community Park. Using mulch and organic compost are great ways to reduce waste, conserve water, reduce need for application of pesticides or fertilizers and help with pest management. Keep your eyes peeled for our bi-annual composting workshop and mulch-giving events!