We’ve all been there before — you’re cooking dinner and have a peel that you don’t want to go into the trash because you know you can compost it, but you aren’t sure how to do it. How often do you think about composting? Do you ever wonder what happens to your food scraps when they go into the garbage disposal or down the sink?
In fact, it is possible to turn most food scraps into compost — and I am going to tell you how to turn your food waste, including peels, fruit and vegetable scraps, moldy leftovers, eggshells (and more) into compost using a very straightforward process.
Step 1: Prepare for composting
Before you can start to turn your food waste into compost, there are two things that you must do:
- firstly, ensure that no meat products go in the compost bin, and
- secondly, find a suitable container to store the food scraps until you accumulate enough waste.
It is not recommended that anything with meat products be placed in a composter because most life forms will either refuse to eat it or die trying (because they cannot digest it). If this happens, your composter will become a breeding ground for bacteria, and the smell will be horrendous.
The most important part of composting is to have a container that you can store your food scraps in until they are ready to be turned into compost. This can be anything from an old ice cream tub to a purpose-built composter (which I will cover later in this article).
Step 2: Create a pile in your compost bin
Start by putting an inch or two of brown matter (dried leaves, straw, wood chips) in the bottom of your compost bin.
Then, start adding your food scraps to the pile. As I mentioned earlier, keep in mind that you should not put any meat products in the compost bin. The easiest way to do this is to place your food scraps directly into the container and then cover them with another layer of brown matter.
This piling your compost bin is called the “lasagna method” and one of the most popular compost methods. By placing one brown layer down, then a layer of food scraps, and repeating until you’ve filled your composter to the top, you will ensure that air pockets are present in a pile.
This allows for proper drainage throughout your composting materials, which helps them decompose properly.
Step 3: Turn into compost
After putting all of your leftover food in the composter, it is time to turn your waste into compost! I recommend having two bins be used while the other is being turned.
Start by removing the brown matter from the top of your compost bin and placing it into the other container. Then, take your food scraps and mix them around a bit to spread out evenly.
Replace the brown matter on the food scraps and give it a good stir to combine everything.
Repeat these steps until your compost is ready to be turned into soil. It may take a few weeks, or it could even take months depending on the outside temperature and how much food waste you add each time.
Step 4: Use it for your garden
Once your compost is done cooking (yes, that’s what I call it), grab a shovel and start digging in! The soil created from composting is perfect for planting vegetables, flowers, and other plants.
Make sure that you mix the compost well with your existing garden soil to give your plants a healthy start.
Not only will your garden thank you for the added nutrients, but you’ll also be helping to reduce the amount of waste that goes into our landfills each year. You will be amazed at how much better your plants will look and how much bigger they will grow when you use compost as part of their regular diet.
The Bokashi composting method
The Bokashi method is a relatively new composting system that has been getting more and more attention from those looking to reduce their food waste.
Bokashi composting is a Japanese system that uses an inoculated bran mix to ferment food waste. This process takes place in a specially designed bin with a tight-fitting lid. This leads to a speedy fermentation process, meaning your food waste will be ready for the garden in as little as one week.
The great thing about Bokashi composting is adding meat, dairy, and even eggs to your pile, which you cannot do with regular composting.
In this process, you have two bins filled with the same materials as I mentioned above: brown matter and food scraps. The difference comes in what happens to this stuff once they are added to the bin.
In the first stage of Bokashi composting, the food waste is mixed with the inoculated bran and left to ferment for about a week. During this time, it will produce a liquid that can be used as a fertilizer in your garden or poured down your drain to help break down food particles that are stuck in your plumbing.
When the first stage is complete, you start with another batch of food waste and inoculate the bran mixture to begin the second fermentation process. You can do this as many times as necessary until your garden soil needs an added boost.
Last winter, I started out with two Bokashi compost bins and cannot be more pleased with the results. Not only is it a great way to reduce my food waste, but I also feel good knowing that the nutrients from this process are going directly into our garden and not sitting in a landfill somewhere.
Whether you choose to go with the traditional composting method or give Bokashi composting a try, there are plenty of benefits to be had by reducing your food waste.
Not only will you be doing your part to help the environment, but you’ll also be getting free fertilizer for your garden and teaching your children about the importance of recycling!