Composting does not have to stop in the winter time. One can compost inside, in your garage or outside with some insulation in most weather conditions. We asked Liz Kendler of the Langley Environmental Partners Society for some tips on composting. The Langley Environmental Partners offers composting classes as part of their mission to “protect and restore the natural environment through education, cooperation and action.”
Q. To someone who has never composted before, how would you simply explain its benefits?
A. It’s estimated that a whopping 40% of our household waste is organic material. Some of our landfills are close to overflowing and all this unnecessary garbage is contributing to climate change. Organic material piled up in a landfill undergoes oxygen-free decomposition which releases methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Composting not only reduces the need for more landfills and slows climate change, it provides a superior source of garden and lawn fertilizer. Good compost improves the structure of soil, allowing air flow and drainage, and adds important nutrients. All this is great news for your plants.
Q. Do you need to buy a composting bin or can you make your own?
A. Compost bins can be purchased or home built. Most municipalities in the Fraser Valley offer backyard compost bins and worm bins for residents to purchase at a subsidized rate. Various plans for building your own bin can be found online.
Q. What different types of composting bins are there?
A. Most backyard compost bins available for purchase are made of plastic and are slightly larger than a garbage can. These bins work well for single family homes with a small amount of yard waste. They have a door at the front for harvesting finished compost and are rodent resistant.
For apartment dwellers, worm compost bins are ideal. They fit under a kitchen table or on a small balcony and can process about a gallon of organic waste each week.
For larger amounts of organic waste, a home-built system with two or three bins offers more space and allows compost in “working” bins to fully decompose and then be harvested easily.
Q. What are the most common things that are composted?
A. Raw kitchen waste, including fruit and vegetable scraps and peels.
Tea bags and coffee grounds.
Newspaper, cardboard and sawdust.
Grass clippings and fallen leaves.
Q. What are some things that cannot composted?
A. Cooked foods, grains, meat and dairy cannot be composted in backyard bins. However, all of these items can be put out on the curb in municipalities that do food waste pickup.
Plastics, fruit stickers, metals and pet waste cannot be composted in the backyard or in municipal pickup.
Q. Where should you store your bins to keep them safe from animals?
A. Compost bins should be covered on all sides to prevent rodents from entering. A heavy plastic or wire mesh can be placed under the bin to prevent rodents from tunneling in while still allowing water to drain and worms to enter. Rodents are most likely to be attracted to meat, grain and cooked foods, so be vigilant in keeping these items out of you backyard bin.
Q. How long does the composting process take?
A. Your organic waste will turn into rich fertilizer within 3 to 6 months. Turning the contents of your bin regularly with an aerator and adding at least 50% brown material (dry leaves, sawdust, newspaper) will speed up the process and keep you compost smelling sweet.
Langley Environmental Partners Society
4700 – 224th Street, Langley