Some Notes on Composting
Following my blog post on composting I wanted to share with you what I composted the first couple of weeks and what I learned. Sometimes you have to make mistakes to figure out the best way to go about something so here's to me making the mistakes so you don't have to!
avocado peels, cantaloupe rinds, banana and peels, strawberries, graham crackers, green onions, potato skins, carrots, brussel sprouts, spinach, bread, tea and tea bags.
Some thoughts on a few of these items
Cantaloupe rinds - I used the rind from about ½ of a cantaloupe, I was worried these wouldn’t decompose well since they seem hard and thick, and especially because of the large amount I had, however, they decomposed just as fast as everything else!
Banana and Peel - I put one whole banana and one peel of a banana in my compost. I sliced the whole banana into slices and I cut the peel into strips. Surprisingly, the peel that was cut into strips is taking way longer than the rest of the green matter to decompose. I would suggest cutting banana peels as thinly as possible and probably adding only one peel at a time.
Brussel Sprouts - I added a ton of brussel sprouts to my compost bin all at one time and although they composted quick, it made the compost smell super funky so I would suggest against using a ton of them at once.
Bread - I added a slice of stale bread to my compost mix and it broke down surprisingly fast. Composting old bread is definitely an awesome option, however, there’s tons of ways you could eat stale bread as well so I would use compost as an absolute last resort. (Just make sure there’s no mold on it).
toilet paper rolls, cut up envelopes, used paper towel, egg carton, crushed egg shell, dead leaves and flowers, compostable coffee sleeve and plastic spoons, cardboard.
Everything seemed to decompose as fast as the green matter except for the egg shell, the toilet paper roll, and the cardboard. It’s been probably two months since I put the egg shell in my compost and I still see pieces of it when I mix my compost. I would suggest not using egg shells and cutting the toilet paper roll and cardboard up as thin as you can.
Dealing with flies
Although I have only had to deal with a few flies every once in a while, they can still be fairly annoying. Good news though: they're actually super easy to keep away from your compost! The rotting food obviously attracts them so all you have to do is stir up your compost after each new addition of food scraps and remember to always add a layer of dirt after you stir (something I ALWAYS forget to do).
What to never compost
There are a few things you should always leave out of your compost bin as they will attract unwanted pests and stink up your compost way too much. Leave out all animal products (that means all meat, eggs, milk and other dairy products, and bones), oils (and anything cooked in oil), and fecal waste from pets or humans. However, all of these things can be added to a commercial compost bin if you know of one near you. It is also best to steer clear from composting shiny paper or boxes, stickers from fruits and vegetables, excessive amounts of ink on paper, and plants treated with pesticides. These can all be harmful components in your compost once you add it to your garden.
It is also important to never compost citrus, onions, or garlic. These are all very harmful to the worms and they will slowly die off if you add them to your compost! This is especially important to remember if you have a small composting bin (like mine).
Now I’ll just leave you with a few other side notes about compostable items.
First some good news. As of a couple months ago, Starbucks has switched to a sustainable, compostable sleeve, meaning you can just cut up the sleeve (including the ink and glue) and throw it straight in your compost! That’s just a little fact of life that took me a few days to discover, but it has been confirmed by multiple sources (including myself because I composted one and it seemed to work out well) so I thought I’d save you the hassle and just tell you that here.
Also I have discovered a symbol I didn’t know existed. It looks like this:
And it basically means that this item you probably thought was plastic actually isn’t AND it can be composted! I first discovered this on some ramen spoons which I then tried to compost without any success. Turns out this symbol typically means it is compostable only in commercial compost. This means that if you throw it into your landfill bin or a compost bin at a local business then it will be composted.
Last thing I just wanted to bring up is to make sure you are aware of the caffeine you are putting in your compost. I have only been composting my caffeine free tea bags so far because I have yet to do research on which plants thrive on caffeine and which ones can’t handle it. I would suggest only composting caffeinated tea bags and coffee if you have done your research and know your plants will be okay with it.
Any Other Advice?
If you have any advice for fellow composters on what not to do (or what to do) then please share it here! I'd love to hear your thoughts and even answer any other questions you may have!