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Going Green .. Part 2

Going Green! Part 2..

We talked about how to reduce your carbon footprint, about a week ago..  now we look at how,

air + water + brown stuff + green stuff = Compost!

That’s right folks, composting is the way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes –  it is planned decomposition of plants and once-living materials to create enriched soil.

photo credit :

photo credit :

It is also a critical step in disposing of garbage needlessly sent to landfills. Compost makes an earthy-smelling, dark, crumbly substance rich in nutrients for house plants or garden soil. I mean how nice, of everything that wasn’t consumed for nutrition, could be returned to the earth? Picture, fruit piths, and discarded tissue paper, all having a role to play in helping mother nature out. Imagine containers used to hold baby plants in the soil, decomposing after 1 week and becoming manure for the very plant it encased. No need for removal or build up of plastic crap that’s toxic to the environment.

Finished compost can be applied to lawns and gardens to help condition the soil and replenish nutrients.

So what’s in Compost?

The recipe for successful compost is fairly simple. Microorganisms (some too small to see, and others such as millipedes and earthworms) turn yard and food waste into compost. Air, water, carbon, and nitrogen are the other ingredients needed to make useful compost material. Compost is made in the following way:

• “Brown stuff,” such as dead dried plant parts (leaves, pine needles), newspaper, or sawdust, provides carbon.
• “Green stuff,” such as fresh, living items like freshly cut grass, kitchen vegetable scraps, weeds, and other plants, provides nitrogen.
• Air is incorporated into the mixture by way of churning (via the microorganisms at work as well as by mixing with a shovel or using a rotating movement).
• Water is added to each layer of compost mixture as it is assembled. Water may also be added during the decomposition process to keep the microorganisms alive and to prevent the mixture from drying out.

The Benefits of Compost –

• Suppress plant diseases and pests
• Reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers
• Promote higher yields of agricultural crops
• Facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by amending contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils

Note that not all items can be composted. Those items in the “In” list can be included in a compost pile, whereas those in the “Out” list should be excluded.

The “In” List

• Animal manure
• Clean paper, shredded newspaper, cardboard rolls
• Coffee grounds, filters, tea bags
• Cotton rags, wool rags
• Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
• Eggshells, nut shells
• Fireplace ashes
• Fruits and vegetables
• Grass clippings, yard trimmings, leaves, houseplants,
hay, and straw
• Hair and fur
• Sawdust, wood chips

The “Out” List

• Black walnut tree leaves or twigs (might release substances harmful to plants)
• Coal or charcoal ash (might contain substances harmful to plants)
• Dairy products (create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies)
• Diseased or insect-ridden plants (infect other plants)
• Fats, grease, lard, or oils (create odor problems; attract pests such as rodents and flies)
• Meat or fish bones and scraps (create odor problems; attract pests such as rodents and flies)
• Pet wastes, such as dog or cat feces or soiled cat litter (might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens,
and viruses harmful to humans)
• Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides (might kill beneficial composting organisms)

Source: US Environmental Protection Agency. Basic information: composting. basic.htm.

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