How Your Old Carrot Peels and Apple Cores Can Make You Healthier and Be Kind to the Planet Too

You may think that throwing your carrot peelings and apple cores in the garbage has no effect since they will decompose anyway. But even natural plant matter will last for years when it's sealed in a plastic bag and tossed into a landfill.

As a great example of community responsibility, the city of Seattle, WA offers free composting bins to all residents. This keeps over 800 million pounds of garbage out of their landfills! Not only can you help divert your own kitchen waste from the dump, but you can create rich nourishing humus for your own garden, whether it's an acre or an old wine barrel on your patio.

WHY SHOULD I COMPOST?

o Over 21 million tons of food waste is generated each year in the USA. If this were composted, the greenhouse gases saved would equal taking over 2 million cars off the roads.

o You will add valuable nutrients back into the soil and your garden will be healthier and your vegetables will be more nourishing to you and your family.

o You will save money by not having to buy garden soil and mulching materials, and that will save the energy to transport those products to your store and your garden.

WHAT IS COMPOST?

When organic materials such as leaves, vegetable food scraps, manure, and garden waste decompose in a controlled environment (your composting bin), a rich and fertile humus is created that will improve and fertilize your garden soil.

Your plants are much healthier because:
o nutrients are added
o drainage is greatly improved, if your soil has a lot of clay in it
o if your soil is sandy, the compost helps it to retain water

If your compost pile is cool, worms and insects will find their way into it and help to transform your waste into food for your garden. But it helps to get the conditions right. Provide these friendly critters with sufficient air, water and food, and they will be your garden's best friends.

IS COMMERCIAL COMPOST THE SAME AS "HOME-MADE"?

Homemade compost is better for microbes and nutrient diversity, but bagged compost does provide organic matter and some microbes. Beware that composted manure may be mostly water by weight.

If you have a large garden where the soil needs added nutrients, you may want to purchase cheap bags of composted manure or bulk compost from a local commercial composter, then add your own compost as needed.

If you are purchasing compost, keep in mind that there are no regulatory labeling requirements on bagged compost. Grade A composted sewage sludge is probably the safest, because it is the only type of compost that requires testing for heavy metals and pathogens before it is approved for sale to the public. Feedlot manure is much more dangerous from a pathogen point of view, since testing is not required.

WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE?

Even if you only have a small apartment balcony or back porch, you can compost in …

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