Today is Superbowl Sunday. Millions of people around the world will gather to feast, fellowship and follow the most anticipated game of the year.
This event and all the millions of parties will not only generate a lot of fun, but mounds and mounds of trash as well. And all of it will be put into trash bags and eventually hauled to a massive mound known colloquially as a “municipal dump”.
Mixed in within that trash will be food. And among that food you will find items that can be composted in your own yard or home, rather than piled on top of tons of other trash, never to be seen again.
Composting is an activity anyone can do, regardless of age, income or residential status. The end result can be used in gardens to nourish the plants and the soil.
Several methods of composting are possible, both indoors and out. Outdoors the
options include: pile, bin, vermi-composting (using worms to compost), or holes in the ground (side-dressing).
Indoor methods can be as simple as a garbage bag, garbage can, vermi-composting, or the Bokashi method, which is an anaerobic fermenting process.
The most important parts of composting are heat, moisture, microbes and time. Beyond that, the method you choose should be the one that works best for you!
One of the first things to do when composting food is separate the food items. Some people compost processed and cooked foods, but I do not. I prefer to compost foods that are raw and unseasoned (no salt, oils, or vinegar). Be especially sure to remove any meat or dairy from the composting material. Meat and dairy can be composted, but should never be composted with vegetables and fruits. Meat and dairy require a more intense and careful method to properly and safely compost.
Chop the food up into small bits. A blender comes in handy for this process. The
smaller the vegetation, the sooner it composts. Add it to your compost bin/pile/can – top off with a bit of soil and moisture – and wait! If it is a compost pile, every month or so use a hoe to turn the pile, which allows air to get in and soil microbes to mix up more, hastening the process. If there is a dry spell, water the compost pile occasionally. This will help raise the internal temperature, and also helps break down the vegetation.
Within a few months, check out the wonderful humus! It should look like soil: brown,
loose, and crumbly. Add the humus to your garden soil, and voila! You’ve now completed a cycle – food - to compost – to food!
As with anything else, composting must be done properly in order to avoid problems. Correctly done, compost should not smell bad or attract flies. If composting material is overloaded into the bin, it will greatly reduce the effectiveness of the compost process, and may create unwanted smells and attract many flies. In addition, if rats and other pests are a concern, consider a very sturdy and strong structure for composting, possibly including a "rat wall" to protect the contents from rodents.
If you become a composting junkie like me, soon you will be composting just about anything. I compost wool, hair, leather, newspaper, leaves… just about anything organic.
So, have fun with your friends and enjoy the game. No matter which team triumphs, you can be an environmental winner by the simple act of composting!