Everyone has kitchen waste, and that waste can be transformed into a useful garden product called compost.
Compost is decomposed, organic matter that is rich in nutrients that plants need. Compost also improves soil structure and provides several other benefits for plants, making it well worth the effort to create. So how do I compost kitchen waste?
Get a Container
Start the process with the right container. If you intend to keep kitchen waste indoors until it has decomposed or until you have enough to take outside to the compost pile, then you will need a container with a lid.
The container can be a simple food grade plastic bucket with a lid or large, lidded bowl that can be hidden under the cabinet. Counter-top composters can look like high-end kitchen appliance and can be displayed on the counter-top.
Scraps can be stored in plastic bags in your refrigerator or freezer until ready to be tossed into the compost pile. Kitchen waste takes up less space if chopped or shredded first: chopping it will also allow it to decompose faster.
What To Compost
All fruit and vegetable scraps. Grounded coffee and tea bags; eggs shells; corn cobs; grains (cooked or raw); and out-dated pantry foods. Anything made with flour, like pasta, bread, pastries, crackers and cereal will make good additions to the compost container.
What Not To Add
Do not add meat, fish, oil or dairy products to your compost container. These food products will attract animals to the compost. Meat products will also attract flies and create a breeding ground for maggots.
These ‘do-not-add’ kitchen waste products will also cause the decomposition process to slow down, throw the nutrients out of balance and cause the compost to stink.
As the container of kitchen waste fills up you will need a larger container or pile in which to place everything until it’s fully decomposed.
Create an environment that can’t fail by creating layers of kitchen waste and soil. Start the pile with a 1-2 inch layer (2.5 – 5 cm) of soil (recycle soil from last season’s potted annual flowers), then add 6 inches (15 cm) of waste. Continue the layers until you are out of kitchen waste. Water the pile thoroughly.
This is often referred to as ‘brown’ and ‘green’ layers. The brown being the soil, or some other type of dead material, like leaves. The green being the kitchen waste.
Turn the compost pile once a week. This will help keep the pile ‘cooking’ evenly so all organic kitchen waste will decompose at the same rate and turn into nutrient-rich black gold.
You may be interested in my other article, “Organic Garden Soil and Its Benefits“.