Making compost is one of the best ways to utilize your garden’s resources to improve the health of your soil, which in turn improves plant health.
Garden clippings and food waste are usually trucked across the county where they are then composted. So making your own compost, at home, reduces your carbon footprint! Here are several ways to compost, whether you live in a house or apartment, in an urban, suburban, or rural setting.
Yard Waste Composting
- The Recycler Composter: A low-cost, simple bin that can be used to hold compost materials for passive decomposition, or can be turned to produce compost more quickly. Also great for piling full of fall leaves to make leaf mold, one of the best soil amendments on earth. This bin is made by Beaver State Plastics and available through the Seattle Conservation Corps.
- Three-Bin System: For those who want to produce several batches of hot compost concurrently and quickly, building this system makes it easy and neat to turn the batches. Plans are available online through Tilth Alliance for a 3 bin system and a 2 bin system.
- Wire fencing or other containment: As the saying goes, “compost happens.” You can create a simple holding bin from welded wire fencing, chicken wire, or old pallet boards and your compost will turn out just as great.
Food Waste Composting
- Green Cones: The cones do not require turning or the addition of worms, so it’s an easy system. Just dump food scraps into the cone until it is about 3/4 full. Then let it sit for about 9-12 months to decompose while you start filling a second green cone. Green cones are also available through the Seattle Conservation Corps.
- Food Digester: These are simple and easy, used much like a green cone, but a do-it-yourself project made from a small galvanized steel trash can. A plan is available through the Tilth Alliance website.
- Worm Bin: These produce compost much more quickly than green cones or food digesters, but require a little maintenance to retain your worm populations while you harvest the “black gold” that they’ll make for you. You can build your own indoor or outdoor bin, or purchase one. Several worm bin plans are available through the Tilth Alliance website – both wood and plastic.
As you probably noticed, none of these methods recommend combining food waste with yard waste. Food waste has to be composted in a closed system in order to prevent problems with rodent populations. It is much easier to prevent problems than to remedy them!
Check out this handy guide to help you determine which system is best for your needs from King County.
Interested in learning more about composting and soil building and willing to share that knowledge with others? If you are a City of Seattle resident you might consider the Master Composter Sustainability Steward training program.