Backyard Composting – a Great Way to Save Money and the Planet

Unrecognizable person pouring kitchen waste into compost bin, close-up of handsWith Ontario’s growing trend toward municipal user fees for waste removal, it makes sense to think of ways to offset these costs, while also helping to protect our planet. Backyard composting is a great way to reduce your use of landfills while also making fantastic fertilizer for your garden. And it’s so easy.
Many municipalities offer inexpensive composters or you can pick up composting units in plastic or wood from your local hardware store. If you have the space, you can make your own – even a simple pile will work as long as you follow these simple and easy steps:
1. Locate your composter on loosened soil in an accessible, shady location. Remember that you’ll be adding material even throughout the winter.
2. Add your compost material in layers of greens and browns. Greens are kitchen scraps, such as vegetables, fruit, tea bags, coffee grounds and crushed eggshells, grass clippings and weeds. Browns are leaves, cut-up twigs, sawdust and shredded paper products.
3. Add water. Your compost should be damp, but not wet.
4. Occasionally, add some soil. This will add the microorganisms that will help break down the material and will deter insects.
5. Add air. Every month or so, turn the compost well.
For a backyard composter, avoid adding fish, meat, dairy products, fats or oils. These materials may attract pests. Keep pet waste or any painted wood out of your compost – you don’t want these in your garden.
If pests are a concern, planting mint or other aromatic plants around your composter will discourage critters. However, as long as you keep your compost layered, damp and turned, it should not smell and it won’t attract unwanted attention from wildlife.
In a few short months, your compost will be ready for your garden. Its nutrient-rich qualities will keep your plants healthy and happy and keep those user fees where they belong –  in your pocket.

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