Good Gardening: Compost

Mar 2, 2020

Credit John Fischer / KLCC

Your garden can produce a lot- of food, and of waste. Getting rid of the produce is easy- have seconds. And getting rid of the garden waste along with all your kitchen scraps is easy too because somebody else will do the work.

Residents of Eugene, Portland, Salem, Albany and Corvallis can put all their food scraps including meat and dairy into their green waste cans.  That is not true for any other areas in Lane County- ask your city counsellor if you want the policy to change where you live.

And everybody can compost their non-meat and dairy food and garden waste in a rodent proof composter. No turning. No special mixture. Just drop it in the bin, throw a few leaves on top if you have fruit flies, and let the worms or soldier fly larvae do the work.

Many people think compost must get hot, mixed in specific ratios, and turned to decompose. That is true for hot compost, but you need a pile 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet to generate the heat- and homeowners don't produce that much waste at a time.

Most compost- in the worm bin, in the backyard, and in nature is vermicompost- compost made by worms. And worms are magic. They will turn tons of food and garden waste into pounds of rich worm castings. Soldier fly larvae- the immature form of the mouthless, non-disease spreading soldier fly worries people when it appears in compost, but they are harmless and do the same work as the red wriggler worms- but faster. Check out the videos on KLCC's web site under Good Gardening.

Now I'm going to take off my master composter hat for a second.  I put the few meat scraps we generate into our composter- moldy cheese too. All food can attract rats; that’s why open compost piles are not allowed in most municipalities. Meat and dairy add nitrogen to your compost and produce methane in a landfill.

Ok, hat back on. Eat your food- don't waste it. Composting at home eliminates transportation impacts, and reduces fertilizer needs. Get a bin today- start composting tomorrow.

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