See it happens. You clear the fridge and come across a bag of mushy grapes, some withered spinach or a rotten half head of cauliflower hiding in your back that you never made it to eat. After the current guilt has washed over you and the frustration of throwing away overdue items that you paid for (again) has subsided, throw the spoiled items in your trash can.
Before you throw it away the next time, you might want to reconsider it – or rather, Where you do. Instead of the trash, throw spoiled ingredients, scraps of food, and leftovers in your compost bin.
Food waste that ends up in landfills can contribute to alarmingly high levels of polluting methane gas emissions. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) about 30-40 percent of the food supply in the US becomes food waste. Food waste is also that third largest source of man-made methane emissions in the country, which accounted for about 14.1 percent of US emissions in 2017.
There is a lot to do to curb food waste, starting with preventing food waste. Composting leftover food and other spoiled ingredients is a great way to offset the environmental impact of your own food waste.
Whether you have a well-developed green thumb or are just starting out with gardening, composting can help you cut your costs and ensure your beloved plant babies thrive – while reducing the harmful methane emissions caused by wasted food. To make composting a breeze, we’ve rounded up the best compost and other forage foods that can feed your garden and the planet with vital nutrients for rejuvenated growth.
The 9 best foods for compost
Most fruits – from apples and bananas to pears, grapes, and berries – provide compost rich in nutrients that will enrich your soil. Usually, most varieties are safe to add depending on the type of composting system you have at home, thoughThere are some fruits that compost better than others. According to Jennifer Jewell, author of The earth in their hands: 75 extraordinary women who work in the plant world and Host of the award-winning radio show and podcast, Cultivation place: Conversations about natural history and the human impulse to garden“If you have a small space and are using traditional outdoor composting methods – rather than worm composting, which uses earthworms in a bin – you should avoid fruits and vegetables with very hard skins or large seeds.”
Large-pitted fruits like avocados and stone fruits (including peaches and nectarines) can take a long time to decompose and may not decompose at all. It’s okay to compost the fruit yourself, but remove the core if possible. In addition, certain highly acidic fruits, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, can affect the pH of vermicompost bins.
Vegetable scraps are some of the best compost foods. And yes, compost them in any form: raw, cooked, or rotten. If you cook at home, you can make a habit of saving leftovers (like the top of the leeks or the kale stalks for your compost) to reduce your food waste footprint.
Nuts and grains
Nuts, nutshells, and grains will be very beneficial to your compost ecosystem as any of them can bring important nutrients into your soil. Although items like chewy pistachio shells can take several years to decompose, crushing them before adding them to the bin can help speed the process and melt it into the soil more evenly.
In recent years, commercial compost bins have become more common in businesses, particularly in restaurants. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) US restaurants produce an estimated 22 to 33 billion pounds of food waste each year. But Composting leftovers in your own kitchen is also an excellent idea, even if you’re cooking on a smaller scale. Go ahead and discard all Your bare veggies, grains, and pasta, plus boneless pieces of lean meat and protein. However, Jewell recommends limiting things like “dairy products, oils, dressings, or other fats so as not to hinder decomposition and vigorous microbial activity.” In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also recommends the limitation Meat or fish bones and scraps as they cause odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies (more on this below).
Instead of throwing away the coffee grounds from your daily cup of coffee, Jewell recommends adding them – and unbleached paper coffee filters – to your compost to add nitrogen to the mixture. Both coffee grounds and filters decompose in an active composting system within a few months. Some gardeners also suggest checking with your local coffee shop to see if they’re ready to donate used coffee grounds that they no longer need for your composting. (Win win.)
If drinking tea is part of your daily routine, save the soaked tea bags to toss in your compost bin. High in minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen, tea leaves can help maintain moisture levels, increase oxygen levels, and increase the rate of decomposition. Note: It is important that your tea bags are made of biodegradable, compost-safe materials before adding them to your compost.
Using eggshells in compost adds minerals like calcium and other essential nutrients that are beneficial for plant growth, making this waste one of the best foods to compost. While there is no need to shred the husks before adding them to your composting bin, Jewell recommends doing so as it will help speed their rate of disintegration.
To make up for the damp, green, and nitrogen-rich materials from household scraps, Jewell recommends adding drier, high-carbon garden waste such as dry leaves, plant debris, and old soil to your compost. Balancing the moisture and the organic materials used prevents the compost from rotting, stinking excessively, becoming anaerobic or being dominated by bacteria.
Food that you shouldn’t compost
While most foods are safe to compost, others can invite unwanted pests in or create unwanted odors in your home. As mentioned, according to the EPA, Dairy and / or animal products such as butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt and eggs can cause odor problems and attract pests. In addition, they find that fats, fats, lard or oils, as well as meat, fish bones and waste, can also potentially attract rodents and flies. Never compost charcoal or charcoal from your grill. Finally, avoid adding food waste that may be contaminated with harmful pathogens or bacteria that can affect the health of your compost. This also applies to animal waste from pets.
What are indicators that your compost is ready for use?
“As soon as your compost feels, looks and smells like crumbly, rough ‘earth’ – rather than the leftover food or plant debris you originally put in it – it’s ready for use,” says Jewell. “The end product should hold and drain the water equally well and have good water retention. This means that it holds together moist and compressed in the hand, but crumbles apart when you work gently. After all, it should smell earthy, ”notes Jewell.
How much compost should you add to your garden or plants at one time?
Indicators like the color of the leaves and the formation of flower buds can help identify a plant in need of a nutrient boost, explains Jewell. Introducing your homemade compostable waste can help give your plants and garden the nutrients they are lacking.
“I add a good five centimeters of compost around the drip line of my plants – often referred to as top dressing – and then dig it a little into the existing soil so that it doesn’t just wash away or pile up on the crown of the plant “, she says. In terms of frequency, Jewell explains, the requirements are different for each type of plant. “I tend to compost my perennials, like roses and sage, once in spring and once in autumn. Twice a year, once in spring and once in midsummer, I dress my potted plants with fresh compost from my pile. And of course I dress my summer vegetables every couple of weeks in the high season, ”explains Jewell.
The benefits of composting
In addition to saving food waste and enriching your soil, one of the main benefits of composting is knowing exactly what got into your healthy soil and thus into your plants and home-grown crops. Unlike store-bought soil, which is at risk of exposure to chemicals or pesticides, home-made compost is cheaper, healthier, more environmentally friendly, and free of any plastic packaging.
“Compost mulch on your garden soil can help feed plants, drive away weeds, keep roots cool in summer, and improve moisture retention in your soil so you use less water too. It’s a win, win, win! “Cries Jewel.