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Local Food Journey

Five Reasons to Compost

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 04/22 at 03:01 PM

Image provided under creative commons license by Flickr user kirstyhall

You just made a big pot of soup with all sorts of stuff you got from the farmer’s market. Now you have carrot tops, potato peels, yellowed greens, etc. Throw them in the garbage? No way! You have compost, not trash.

It’s relatively simple to start composting, and here is a great page from Penn State Extension to get you started. So why should you begin composting? Here are five reasons:

- Cuts down on the amount of trash you take to the curb: According to various studies, between 15-20 percent of what constitutes our garbage can be composted. Among things that you can compost includes newspapers, vegetable/fruit waste, lawn clippings (beware if you use a lot of pesticides in your lawn), yard waste like leaves and small twigs, rinsed egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, and even human hair can be composted. Composting definitely helps the environment both globally and in your own backyard. Turn your spoils into soil!

- Your yard and garden plants will love you: Those of us who garden know that compost is basically black gold. Full of nutrients, compost makes a fantastic fertilizer. You can even plant seeds directly into compost spread on your garden, as Doug Oster of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette demonstrates here. So if your plants seem droopy and hungry, if you compost you can give them a boost.

- It’s free (well, sort of): Instead of spending money on bags of compost at the big box stores, you can simply grab the shovel and wheelbarrow and fill it up with free compost from your bin or pile. One thing to keep in mind; you can set up a compost bin by buying one, such as the Earth Machine, or you can build one. A compost bin can be as simple as some poles with inexpensive chicken wire wrapped around them to hold in the compost and keep the pile tall so it processes down faster.

- It doesn’t have to smell: Some people believe that compost piles = megastench and people holding their noses at your backyard barbeque. However, this doesn’t have to be; you can purchase one of the enclosed bins to control the smell. Plus, a smelly compost pile is a sign something’s not right and you have to adjust the mix of items, or you just need to be sure to turn over the compost or stir it up.

- All the cool kids are doing it, including the cool restaurants: Webster’s Book Store Cafe has compost bins, Otto’s Pub and Brewery composts their spent beer grains, and Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks composts their kitchen waste, to name a few.

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick
Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA

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