Pitch In to Win: Join the conversation about composting

*** Congratulations to our winners schrader, dlysebo, and alison from our Hotline & @jennyhops and @kayleighneethling from Instagram! Thanks so much for your fantastic entries! ***

Our brand-new Five Two compost bin is landing in the Shop starting this Sunday 2/27 to help you take the next step toward sustainability. And what better way to welcome it to the family, than by sharing tips from our community. Composting can be complicated, so bring your questions and your tips and tricks. They’re all good for a chance to win a set of sustainable all-stars from our community-driven line.*

Here’s the Dirt:

- Five winners will receive one set each of Five Two Reusable Silicone Straws, Five Two Organic Cotton Reusable Produce Bags, and Five Two Compostable Sponge Cleaning Cloths.
- Log into your Food52 account. If you don’t have one yet, create one by clicking the blue “Sign Up” button in the top right-hand corner of this page.
- Enter the giveaway by replying to this Hotline post with a composting tip or question.
- You can also follow our Food52 Instagram account for a chance to win by replying through our Instagram Stories.

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*Food52's Composting Giveaway, Pitch In to Win, is open 02/25/2022 at 10:00am ET through 03/07/2022 at 6:00pm ET, no purchase necessary. Limited to residents of the contiguous United States, Alaska, and Hawaii, only. Limit one entry per person, multiple entries will not be considered. Five winners will receive one set each of Five Two Reusable Silicone Straws, Five Two Organic Cotton Reusable Produce Bags, and Five Two Compostable Sponge Cleaning Cloths. Giveaway items are not transferable and may not be redeemed for cash value. Winners will be contacted via email the week of 03/14/2022.

Five Two
  • Posted by: Five Two
  • February 25, 2022
  • 2952 views
  • 108 Comments
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108 Comments

dlysebo March 18, 2022
We have been composting for years. Having an indoor compost bin is great to discard fruit and vegetable scraps. We also compost eggshells and coffee grinds. I empty my indoor bin into my outdoor bin and let the magic begin.

 
Maureen O. March 17, 2022
We need an indoor composter, since we have critters outside that will be attracted to an outdoor one! Are there affordable indoor composters?
 
Mary T. March 18, 2022
A Worm Factory is an efficient and compact composter for not too much $$. It doesn't handle large volumes however but produces wonderful vermicompost. These are expensive but probably have much faster through-put: https://pela.earth/lomi-vs-tero
 
Clatterbuck March 1, 2022
I love all of these products.
 
[email protected] March 1, 2022
I recommend emptying your compost into a Sub Pod to up your composting came!
 
Elise March 1, 2022
Can you compost meats and seafoods? I'm not always sure!
 
Mary T. March 1, 2022
These are expensive but could be the answer for apartment dwellers who want to compost: https://pela.earth/lomi-vs-tero
 
Maureen O. March 17, 2022
I saw those, they are too expensive for me, but I WANT one! :)
 
Jer4Ker1 March 1, 2022
Looking forward to getting my composting game strong! Great ideas on your site!
 
Catherine February 28, 2022
I live in an apartment, what are some things I can do with compost without any sort of garden or vegetation area?
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Catherine!
In some cities there are communal compost points, city compost pick-up, or a compost pile at a community garden. Searching online for your city name + "compost" can often help, and sometimes 311 in your area has info on this as well.
 
Catherine March 1, 2022
Thank you, I had no idea! I am so motivated to start composting now :)
 
Moforester February 28, 2022
Be mindful of your countertop collection bin. If it doesn't fill up quickly, it can become very ripe! Peee yew!
 
[email protected] February 28, 2022
Can pistachio shells be composted?
 
Pamela L. March 1, 2022
Yes, but they won't break down in one season. They do turn a beautiful mahagony color:)
 
rc5245 February 28, 2022
I would love to start composting but don't have much room in my tiny townhouse kitchen for a bin and our HOA won't allow one outside... any tips for starting small in a small home?
 
kitson February 28, 2022
I know this may seem obvious, but the efficiency of our backyard composting changed overnight when I started cutting up what went in -- no more whole banana peels, or unchopped avocado skins. Everything gets cut into smaller pieces before it hits the bin.
 
Victor C. February 28, 2022
Is it Compost or Trash? Thankfully our local waste collection service has detailed pictures and lists printed on the large green waste container. It's finding a nice looking bin for scrap collection to sit on our counter that can hold the smells that can be a little difficult. Also use NextDoor to ask if any neighbors would like your scraps and green waste for their aerobic composting bins.
 
Mary T. February 28, 2022
My tip: red worms are said to speed up composting. But they are said not to be very cold tolerant. So here in upstate NY I dig up some red worms from my outdoor compost bins and add them to a Vermicompost system in my basement (Worm Factory) where it is cold but not freezing. And then add worms back to the outdoor compost bins in the Spring. I was surprised after the winter of 2021 which was not severe (no sub-zero temps that I recall), some of the redworms outside survived the winter! This winter has been colder so I'm glad I have my worms in the basement. I feed them every so often with table scraps. And I have lovely vermicompost to add to my seed planting mix.
 
Tamara February 28, 2022
This is probably a gross question, but is it bad to use pet feces in a backyard compost? We routinely pick up our dog’s “presents” and bury them around the yard to not have any unfriendly odors wafting toward our neighbors, but if we can put it in our backyard compost area (when I finally start one), that’d be even better! If it’s a matter of what the compost will be used for, it would most likely be the flowerbeds and some herbs. Obviously, I can seclude it to only the flowerbeds if it’s not a good idea to use that compost for edible plants. TIA!
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Tamara,
According to a bit of online research, dog waste IS compostable but your instincts are right that it should only be used for revegitation & landscaping, NOT for any growing project that will produce a consumable good (like a veggie garden).

Parasites and bacteria can live in pet waste for years, so you also have to keep any compost containing pet waste carefully section off so that your furry friends can't get into it. But with careful planning, yes, dog waste is compostable!
 
ifrahcrystal February 28, 2022
Composting in an apartment is a bit daunting to me and I'd like to know more about how one can do that without attracting pests. One tip I have to give is that you can donate your compost to a community garden, local farms, or even neighbors that have gardens might be willing to accept your compost. I use the Neighborhood app for this and the following site: https://sharewaste.com/
 
Kate B. February 28, 2022
I have some nice tips -- I actually place my big plastic composter directly IN my vegetable garden and plant all around it so that all I need to do is disassemble the bin and move it when it's full -- no need to barrow and shovel the "black gold", it's already in the right place! I just rake it out. And a year's worth of worms and richness has soaked into the bed below! Another tip is to firmly attach hardware cloth (that's not really cloth, but fine metal mesh) to the base of the Earth Machine or whatever plastic bin you use. This keeps out rats and mice... and lets you put any and all food items, even a bit of fat, into your bin. I also fluff it regularly (helps speed decomposition) and when I have time, I crush eggshells and snip up citrus to speed things up. Have fun!
 
allisonj February 28, 2022
I have never composted before and am looking forward to getting started soon. After years of apartment living, I will soon be living in a house with a yard and plenty of space for a garden and compost pile.

I'd love some suggestions on how to go about building space for backyard composting. I am aware of a few methods through my own research; a naked heap vs. a DIY garbage bin or pallets for example. I would like to set up a space for compost that shields it a bit from view and uses second-hand materials; rather than buying something new. Any tips are appreciated! Thanks:)
 
Kate B. February 28, 2022
Hi Allison, do you have a little vegetable garden space? If so, you can dig your compost into some deep holes and grow your veggies around them. If you wanted to just start with a simple wood receptacle made of pallet wood or a circle of 4' tall wire you got at hardware store, you try it and plant easy annual flowers like Cosmos, Zinnia and Calendula around, providing you have at least a half day of sun. Or annual vines like dark purple morning glory or scarlet runner beans! They will grow beautifully from the rich soil. This might be something you can do while deciding on a more permanent composting method. Have fun!

 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Allison,
Congratulations on your new home!

Many hardware stores & grocery stores have wooden pallets that they are willing to donate or give away for home projects. You could repurpose the wood from those pallets to build a compost "box" for your home garden!
 
dehuss February 28, 2022
Fortunately I live in an area that recently expanded curbside green waste removal to include food scraps. I have offered up my bin to some of my friends that live close by but don't have this service yet. Great way for all of us to pitch in.
 
CarmenR February 28, 2022
I’d love tips for composting in a small kitchen/apartment.
 
Mary T. February 28, 2022
If you have room for a Worm Factory, it's an efficient composting system. It takes up about 18 square inches of floor space. There are other systems- just search "vermicompost bin" on Amazon.
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hell Carmen,
This article from our site is a bit older but still has loads of great, relevant tips!

https://food52.com/blog/2986-setting-up-your-container-garden-tips-for-apartment-dwellers-and-small-spaces
 
constance February 28, 2022
The freezer is your friend if you don't have immediate access to an outdoor compost repository.
Even when I had a garden steps from my kitchen, I'd use an old /recycled coffee tin or large foil pouch to store items (used coffee grounds, egg shells, small chopped fruit or veggie discards).
Set it out on the counter to defrost and further compress the contents and you can really pack it in ! Wrap up defrosted materials in newspaper or paper grocery bags and take it off to the compost heap when time permits !
Bonus: coffee grinds can help deodorize your frig, so if you wish, pre-dry used grounds in the frig for a couple of days before freezing them.
 
MROHRBACH February 28, 2022
We have been composting for several years, using garbage cans with holes drilled in for air circulation. However, it takes a good long year for the compost to break down to nice, rich black dirt. Is there any way to speed up this process?
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello!
For the speediest compost breakdown, balance is the key. Is your compost a balanced mix of green & brown matters, like food scraps vs brown, dried leaves? Too much of one or the other can slow down your pile. As well, being too wet or too dry slows things down as well! Making sure your compost stays a nice, light damp (not dusty dry or soggy wet) will help speed to process up too.
 
megmarch1107 February 28, 2022
I currently do not practice composting but am interested in making an effort to. What is the first easy step for me to take?
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Meg,
We have a whole article on how to get started! You can read that here:
https://food52.com/blog/23990-how-to-start-composting-compost-bin-at-home
 
Jwildman27 February 28, 2022
Does anyone have experience with composting in an apartment building? I live in Chicago and would love to do my part!
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello,
This article from our friends over at EarthEasy has loads of great, relevant tips!

https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/how-to-compost-in-an-apartment/
 
samiwong168 February 28, 2022
What do I do after the scraps are filled in the kitchen bin? Used to toss in our green bin but would love to compost it for our garden.
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Sami,

We have a great article on this! You can read it here:
https://food52.com/blog/23990-how-to-start-composting-compost-bin-at-home
 
ljlewis126 February 28, 2022
I would like suggestions on how to keep fruit flies to a minimum. I have been composting for more than 20 years now and some years, the fruit flies are heavy. I have tried many methods, but none work very well.
 
Kate B. February 28, 2022
Fruit flies are a seasonal problem, for the most part. They are active and reproducing a lot in fall, especially. It's hard to completely avoid them, as they come in on fresh produce you buy. But if you keep your bin tightly closed, and dispose of it regularly (and keep your fresh produce in fridge or wash/check it prior to setting out), you'll keep them to a minimum. I've noticed they come in open windows if there's fruit on the counter that they can detect. So the main trick is to avoid letting fruit or veg rot in your home, and dispose of it quickly if it does. I also set out sticky traps near my compost bin, which captures nearly all stragglers. Good luck!
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello!
Kate already got in some great tips here, but something I've found is washing your fruits & veggies once they come home from your grocery tip can help cut down bringing these little miscreants into your home space. Otherwise, keeping traps near your compost bin to preempt the problem (rather than getting them once it starts) is a good way to make sure the pests never grow in numbers.
 
schrader February 28, 2022
I'm curious how your new compost bin helps with odors? I want to get a bin and start and most I see talk about charcoal filters to help with the odor so I'm wondering how the new Food52 bin handles that.
 
Kate B. February 28, 2022
Honestly, I have never used a bin with a charcoal filter. If you toss it regularly (every few days in winter when it's cool; daily or every other day when it's hot), you'll rarely if ever have odor. Someone else suggested tossing it in freezer -- that's a good idea. Just periodically tip the compost from your decorative countertop receptacle into a squishable big yogurt tub with a lid and put it in freezer. The good thing about a squishable freezer receptacle is that, if there's liquid that freezes the food to the tub, you can squish it and squeeze the frozen stuff out into your outside compost bin easily.
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello,
With composting, the best way to fight odors is to reduce them from the start. Frequent emptying, regular washing, and keeping your bin out of the strong sunlight (which can warm it up) will all help. We also recommend keeping the bin in your freezer or fridge if you have the space!
 
Pamela L. February 28, 2022
I graduated from keeping compost scraps in the freezer to a countertop compost bin when I moved recently and the tradeoff has been more space in the freezer vs. having to do a quick wash of the bin after emptying. If the bin is closed properly we have neither smell nor fruit flies, though I do keep (an ever-expanding) layer of wine corks at the bottom of a nearby fruit bowl as insurance.
We get two rounds of compost yearly: the winter batch is started in fall and rarely freezes solid in PA (we use a 3 bin setup) so that you can continue to add to it thru the winter. Though little decomposition occurs until springtime, it breaks down fast with warmer temperatures, and it's then time to start the second summer batch. We add egg shells, tea bags and nut shells too; while they don't all break down fully in the compost bin, they quickly do in the garden. It is, hands down, one of the best resources for healthy soil.
 
Elizabeth B. February 28, 2022
I live in an apartment and want to compost and be able to use it to fertilize my container garden on my small deck. Is there anything else I need to do to treat compost before making it safe for plant fertilizing? Also, I am in Boston, so there is a significant portion of the year when it’s too cold to garden. What should I do with my compost when I have no garden to fertilize?
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Elizabeth,
This article from our friends over at EarthEasy has loads of great, relevant tips!

https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/how-to-compost-in-an-apartment/
 
Rsedor.RS February 28, 2022
Why aren’t we supposed to put citrus peels in the compost?
 
Pamela L. February 28, 2022
Purportedly because they will make the compost too acidic and they take longer to break down. There are purists (I'm thinking of Mike McGrath, former editor of OG) who believe that you should compost only leaves and coffee grounds. I put them in my compost.
 
Angela February 28, 2022
I also have wanted to start composting, but live in an apartment, are there ways to compost in that setting? Or are there organizations that will take your compost materials?
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Angela,
This article from our friends over at EarthEasy has loads of great, relevant tips!

https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/how-to-compost-in-an-apartment/
 
Chelsea S. February 28, 2022
Total composing newbie - I've always wanted to start but one major thing holds me back. I live in North Dakota, where the ground is frozen and covered in snow 1/3 of the year. What would I do with the compost in the countertop bin once it's full?
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Chelsea,
In some cities there are communal compost points, city compost pick-up, farmer's market composting, or a compost pile at a community garden. Searching online for your city name + "compost" can often help, and sometimes 311 in your area has info on this as well.
 
ChelseyBlanche February 28, 2022
I’d love to know where are the best places to keep a compost bin in a small space? We live in a small kitchen for a family of 3 & I already feel like I don’t have room for the appliances I have. Any ideas?
 
CAROLINE February 28, 2022
Not composting but food scrap reduction - my favorite way to reduce food waste is to keep a big ziplock bag in the freezer for veggie scraps - onion skins, carrot tops and peels, celery ends, mushroom bits, etc. - when the bag is full, all of it gets dumped in a pot to make vegetable stock that I freeze for whenever a recipe calls for stock/broth.
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Caroline,
Yes! We love & applaud the scrap-bag soup stock! One of the best ways to reduce & reuse.
 
Betsy February 28, 2022
I'm lucky enough to be a part of my city's pilot composting program, we have drop-off locations at public parks, and as soon as my bin is full, I just have to add it to the large bins. Contact your city and see if they would consider offering a program. It's not as expensive as you think, especially if they already have a yard compost program.

My biggest tip is to sprinkle baking soda in the newly emptied bin and let it sit for a while before rinsing it out. Add vinegar if you're like me and wait waaaaaay too long to empty the bin. Takes care of any odor, especially if you like oranges as much as I do.
 
Kelli C. February 28, 2022
One person can make a difference. We have reduced our trash significantly by composting. We learned (just started composting four years ago) that you do not need a fancy compost to place outside. We sectioned off a spot in our garden and used plastic pallets as sides/separators so that we know which side we are going to put into our garden for the coming year. I hope to be a winner of your contest. You are a great company and offer great tips, products, and recipes.
 
Anne G. February 28, 2022
I love putting old potting soil in my compost. After a while in the bin, lots more good compost to spread out!
 
petersenw0586 February 28, 2022
I've been using an old coffee container to store compost on my counter until there is enough to bring outside. This new compost bin looks much more stylish.
 
Kay O. February 28, 2022
I have been composting for years.
Love Food52 bins which look nice on the counter and clean up nicely.
 
Lizzie February 28, 2022
Am a composting newbie. Grandmother always had a compost pile on the farm and I thought I'd give it a try at my new house. Fingers crossed.
 
ripples24 February 28, 2022
We started a compost area in my back yard last year, and I know I will add more kitchen waste to it if I get a container. I've wanted a countertop compost container forever, but am nervous about fruit flies. Are there any suggestions on how to not have a million fruit flies (or stench) from the indoor bin? Thanks all!! --newbie composter :)
 
Jackie331 February 28, 2022
What kinds of food scraps are best to compost?
 
MF February 28, 2022
Our city has started using landscape waste buckets as compost and the city comes and picks them up! Start a campaign and get your town/city to do the same👍🏽
 
Allison M. February 28, 2022
I'm interested in starting to compost but where I live currently my yard doesn't have enough space for a garden. Any recommendations on what to do with your compost materials if you don't utilize it at your own place of residence?
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Allison,
In some cities or areas there are communal compost points, compost pick-up, farmer's market composting, or a compost pile at a community garden. Searching online for your city/area name + "compost" can often help, and sometimes 311 in your area has info on this as well.
 
Annalee February 28, 2022
Line the bottom of your bin with a piece of paper towel - it makes it easier to dump.
 
MF February 28, 2022
Use newspaper instead! Paper towels have chemicals in them and newspaper is “brown“ so contributes to the compost material
 
DBures February 28, 2022
I've been composting for years. A larger countertop container that is easy to clean is a great idea.
 
Barbara M. February 28, 2022
When the bin is full, what do you do with the contents. Especially if you live where the ground is frozen for months at a time.
 
Five T. March 1, 2022
Hello Barbara,
In some cities or areas there are communal compost points, compost pick-up, farmer's market composting, or a compost pile at a community garden. Searching online for your city/area name + "compost" can often help, and sometimes 311 in your area has info on this as well.
 
dlysebo February 28, 2022
I have been composting for years. I compost eggshells, coffee grinds, of course vegetable and fruits. We have a compost bin in our back yard and every spring I use the compost in my garden. Having a small bin on my counter is nice, I just put the waste in there. I had an old counter bin, but it stunk. Waste stuck to the sides, so I don't use it I was using a coffee can. Not only is composting good for the environment it is great for plants.
 
kforcier February 28, 2022
What’s the best way to add compost to plants? Is it best used in new veggie boxes before each planting or can I just put it on top of the soil around my trees/plants?
 
Erin L. February 27, 2022
What is the typical timeframe for a compost to be fully 'ready'? We're monitoring our 'green' and 'brown' but are not sure exactly when it is ready to use in the garden. How often should you turn it (monthly, quarterly)?
 
702551 February 27, 2022
Short answer: it depends.

Longer explanation:

Here's one...

https://www.greenmatters.com/p/how-to-know-compost-ready


Basically it's ready when it's ready. If your compost pile has largish chunks of recognizable "green" matter, it's not ready. Ideally it should look like the type of compost you buy at the garden center: earth-like without major chunks or lumps.

There are 8-10 major factors that determine the maturity of the compost pile.

I'm not going to regurgitate the entire article (and there are plenty of similar ones around) but compost maturity will be achieved when the "green" (nitrogen) materials are basically completely broken down. Smaller pieces help. Oxygenating your compost pile frequently speeds up the process (like turning weekly). Smaller piles will mature faster than larger piles provided materials that are hard to break down (like chunks of wood or animal bones) are not included.

Generally speaking an active ("hot") and well-managed compost pile might be ready in 3 months. A passive ("cold") compost pile might take a year.

Ideally you'd have several compost piles in various stages of maturity. Naturally that's how the big commercial compost piles work. They stagger production over several piles.
 
taylorlynstephan February 27, 2022
I recently had some rancid soy curls (Butler's - made of soybeans only!) and was wondering if that's safe to compost? I know meat and dairy are no-gos, but what about vegan alternatives like tofu/tempeh/soy curls or even seitan?
 
Five T. February 27, 2022
Hi there, great question! Most any plant-based food scraps can be composted, but if they are cooked with other ingredients like large amounts of oils, sugars, sauces, lots of salt, then they should not be composted. Hope that helps!
 
AKAllDay February 27, 2022
Complete compost newbie when it comes to indoor use since my family had an outdoor compost set up growing up and I haven’t gotten back into it till lately.
Anything that shouldn’t go in an indoor compost bin that would be fine outdoors? How often do y’all suggest a single person to empty the bin (without bugs being a problem)?
Thanks and excited to jump back into it!
 
[email protected] February 27, 2022
I've been using a FoodCycler to turn my kitchen scraps into "dirt" that I use in my garden. The flowers have been thriving. However, I recently had some berries that had mold growing on them and I added them to the FoodCycler. Is it OK to use the resulting dirt on my vegetable plants?
 
Alaina H. February 27, 2022
Any tips for someone who's tried composting before, but has a curious cat that will tip over composting bins several times a week?
 
Five T. February 27, 2022
Hi Alaina, thanks for writing! If you have the space, we recommend storing your compost bin in the freezer instead of a countertop when not in use. Hopefully that will be out of your cat's reach!
 
702551 February 27, 2022
If this is a problem with a countertop food scrap bin, keep it under the kitchen sink.

Compost bins will take up a large amount of a typical household freezer which isn't particularly appealing. However you can freeze small amounts of food scraps. Realistically you don't want to allocate half of your freezer real estate to trash.
 
Elizabeth February 27, 2022
For those of you who live in cities that do not have curbside pickup (have to take it to a communal bin), what is your workflow? I am getting a small bin for my house, but do you keep one outside to put everything between drop-offs? Would love some tips.
 
Kristin February 27, 2022
I studied composting for a microbiology project in college— felt like there was so much conflicting, vague information so I wanted to know more about the science. One of the most helpful things I learned is that the bacteria and fungi that decompose organic matter live best in a small layer of water surrounding particles of soil/organic matter. This means your compost should be damp, but not saturated as this will suffocate those microbes. Also, decomposition can also occur without oxygen (ie, if you’re not turning your pile) but it happens much more slowly and is more likely to produce undesirable smells in the process, so turning is good! And finally, the balance of “greens and browns” you read about is about providing enough carbon (browns, like dead leaves, newspaper, etc) and enough nitrogen (such as grass clippings, kitchen waste, etc) to sustain growth in the microbial community.

Hopefully this is helpful to someone!
 
Caroline February 27, 2022
That is a great, concise reply! Thank you!
 
Chailey M. February 27, 2022
Would love some tips for composting while living in an apartment with a small deck! There are no public composting services in my area and we also have really cold winters. Is it worth it to try to have a tumbler bin on my deck?
 
Caroline February 27, 2022
I remember my grandmother had a pit that she dug in the backyard where she would put vegetable scraps, coffee grinds, fish bones and cover with dirt and keep adding to it and turning it once in a while. Thinking back on it now, I wonder how that never attracted squirrels or feral cats or raccoons. But her garden was amazing and she grew THE BEST vegetables. Now I’ve taken up the metaphorical gardening baton and looking to compost. Would you recommend doing it that way? Or should I think about building a 3 compartment composting bin outside like I’ve seen at some farms?
 
Five T. February 27, 2022
Hi Caroline, thank you for your question. Adding compost directly into the ground may attract pests. It may be best to start with compartment composting if you have the space in your backyard. Starting with a food scraps bin on your countertop and storing it in your freezer until you're ready to transfer to your compost will put you on your way to creating an amazing garden!
 
alison February 27, 2022
I have only found pests to be a real problem in warmer months (nothing right now in the dead of winter!). I will leave an empty but not rinsed wine bottle with some plastic wrap (yes, I know, not the greatest) with small holes poked in it-the fruit flies will fly into the wine bottle and not be able to make it out!
 
Five T. February 27, 2022
Such a great trick to gather fruit flies! Storing compost in the freezer during warmer months can help with pests, space permitting!
 
AntoniaJames February 26, 2022
If your town doesn't support curbside composting, see if it, or another town in your county (or your county) has a place where you can take your food waste. In addition to curbside pickup, which is not mandatory here and for which there is an extra fee, we have a "diversion center" - convenient place where you can take cardboard, metal, styrofoam blocks, plastic bags, large quantities of green waste consisting of landscaping clippings, leaves and grass, as well as compost bins. Our county has a similar center, which will take food waste from anyone who lives in the county. When I lived in a town that had no curbside composting options, I drove to that center every week or so.

Whether or not using curbside composting or taking it to a drop off facility, it's a good idea to keep a compostable bag in the freezer for keeping bones, meat scraps and other items that will get smelly after a few days. ;o)
 
Five T. February 27, 2022
It's great that your community has a place to send food scraps as well as materials that are harder to recycle like metal and styrofoam. Agreed that storing bones and meat scraps in the freezer is best to avoid smell!
 
aargersi February 26, 2022
We’re lucky enough to live on 5 acres in the country and we have two large garden plus raised beds … we compost EVERYTHING! In the summer keep a pit and turn it with my neighbors’ old hay and horse poop but now I direct compost straight into the beds all fall and winter. We till in the spring and then I add WORMS! Lots of worms! That’s they key to making the nutrients in the compost available to the plants. I mulch with pine straw and till that in too. Our garden is happy!
 
Five T. February 27, 2022
Worms are such a fantastic way to create nutrient-rich compost. Thank you for sharing!
 
drbabs February 26, 2022
For those of you who compost, how do you deal with pests? And for those of you with community composting, how would you advise someone to get their garbage company to add that service?
 
702551 February 26, 2022
Short answer (re: community composting): talk to your neighbors.

Longer explanation:

Your community needs to care enough about the environment to make this happen. In a town of 1,000 households, if only 50 of them are interested in separating their food waste, the city isn't going to renegotiate their contract with the trash collection service to add composting.

This is no different than the original recycling revolution in the Eighties when some people started showing interest in separating recyclables (plastic, metal, and paper). Same with other issues like auto emissions, leaded gasoline, lead paint, smoking in the workplace.

Remember how the indoor smoking ban came about? It started in the Eighties by California restaurant workers (in more progressive cities) who didn't want to breathe second hand smoke. Unsympathetic people yelled "Find a new job" and many restaurant owners predicted they would go out of business if they forced their patrons to smoke outside. None of this happened and today there are wide ranging regulations for workplace safety.

But it starts with a few people caring and then more people caring.

California in general is aware and open minded to environmental protection issues and the voters tend to elect officials who represent those interests (hence CA Senate Bill 1383).

Remember that I voluntarily signed up to my city's multi-unit compositing pilot program. I was willing to separate out my food waste and pay out of pocket for compostable bags.

And food waste isn't the last battle.

Here in California you have to pay for a shopping bag (a lot of stores only offer paper). In the not too distant future plastic straws and plastic & styrofoam to-go food containers will be banned at restaurants/markets in the state.

Some people might think this is all crazy stuff. Those are people who haven't gone out on a beach cleanup with Surfrider Foundation or -- in our state -- fish out plastic bags in creeks on the annual Coastal Cleanup Day.

Summary: talk to your neighbors and get them to talk to your elected officials. There need to be enough people in a community to make this happen.
 
702551 February 26, 2022
I should also note that my condo complex was selected for the multi-unit composting pilot program because a substantial number of complex residents showed interest.

I filled out an online survey indicating that I was interested in the program and so did a lot of my neighbors. There must have been pretty good response from my fellow residents because there are 200 units in this complex.

In the six months of the pilot program, someone from the city routinely audited the food waste bin to monitor actual program participation and whether or not the voluntary composters were doing it properly. Additional signage was affixed when incorrect items were being added to that bin early during the pilot. Today it looks like my neighbors using the bin are mostly compliant with the trash collection service's guidelines.
 
Janine S. February 25, 2022
I started my first ever garden in the spring/summer of 2020. After spending those long, early pandemic summer days, reading all I could about growing vegetables in my area, the one thing that kept popping up, was the many benefits a compost pile could have in the health of your garden. So I started one, in a clean garbage bin that I punched many holes into and required the use of a shovel to turn over! The plan was to start it in the late summer, have it halt composting in the cold/winter, and hopefully kickstart again as the weather warmed up to be ready for my spring 2021 garden! Well it wasn't fully ready, but as the summer heat kicked in so did the composting. I was shocked at how much that massive pile I used to turn with a shovel, broke down! So much so, that it wasn't enough to cover the whole garden I ambitiously set up for pandemic summer part 2. So I used it as a soil "enhancer", on only one side of the garden. Lo and behold the side with the added compost soil produced bigger, juicier, tomatoes and my basil flourished on that side as well. Indoors I used a terrible little Tupperware to hold my food scraps before taking it outside, I can not wait to use this new bin from Five Two instead!
 
Five T. February 27, 2022
Hi Janine, thank you for sharing! We also can't wait for you to use your new Five Two compost bin!
 
amgg06 February 25, 2022
As a person who can only afford renting an apartment right now (which probably is not all that uncommon - hope the housing prices go down at some point!), and someone who also loves plants, I made it a mission to find a way to still put my organic waste in the compost. I ended up getting a small compost bin and leaving it next to my trash bin under the sink, which makes an easy reminder to throw away garbage vs food waste into their respective places. I put a list of what you can compost vs not and made sure to tape that up on the inside of the cabinet door, which is helpful for when I forget if its an acceptable material to compost or not! I drink coffee everyday so I always love throwing my coffee grounds into the bin because it helps with smell :-) I suggest getting some nifty biodegradable liners so you can easily throw out the food scraps and keep the bin clean and not smelly also! Then I put my compost out every week in a bin I got from my city, and they pick it up street side along with my trash and recycling! Its so simple :-) Now my newest project has been trying to get a worm farm to help keep some of my own compost and use it in my house plants soil!! A small worm farm can process up to two pounds of food waste a week! Hope this inspired some people to let them know even if you don't have a backyard you can still find a way ;-) xx
 
Five T. February 27, 2022
Having a list of what you can compost vs not next to your compost bin is such a handy trick!
 
702551 February 25, 2022
I recently saw a home improvement program (maybe it was Ask This Old House but I'm not 100% certain) on my local PBS channel and they visited an urban composting facility.

The guy they interviewed said that the number one mistake *BY FAR* by consumers composting at home was the wrong carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.

Carbon is provided by things like dead leaves, newspapers, cardboard (sometimes referred to as "brown material"). Nitrogen is provided by food waste (a.k.a. "green material").

The correct carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is 3:1 and most consumers don't include enough carbon ("brown") in their home compost piles.

I can't compost at my tiny little condo but the garbage collection service has provided a food scrap bin which takes residential food waste to the processor's commercial compost operation. These commercial piles get hot enough to break down animal bones and meat so I include those in my food scraps, something you're not supposed to do with a typical backyard compost pile. I was one of a few voluntary residents to were selected to participate in the complex's pilot program about four years ago.

Effective January 1, 2022 California law S.B. 1383 requires all businesses and residences (including multi-unit complexes like mine) to compost all food scraps. The primary reason is to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change. So what was a voluntary pilot program four years ago is now mandatory.
 
702551 February 25, 2022
I forgot to mention that even though I don't have my own compost pile at home I still enjoy the fruits of my labor participating in my complex's composting program.

I occasionally pick up free compost from the local recycling center operated by my garbage collection service. Better than buying bags of this stuff at the garden store!
 
Five T. February 25, 2022
Hey there, thank you for the great tips! It's fantastic that your complex offers a food scrap bin. The proper green vs brown ratio is so vital to ensuring your compost doesn't go bad or degrade too fast. Make sure to throw in coffee filters, newspaper, corn stalks, and even dryer lint as brown materials!
 
AntoniaJames February 25, 2022
Not to mention cardboard egg cartons, and paper towel and toilet paper rolls. ;o)
 
702551 February 25, 2022
Four years ago a compost bin in a multi-unit complex was unusual. Today they are required by law (California Senate Bill 1383).

Per the garbage collection service and my city, newspapers and clean cardboard should go into those respective bins. Food soiled paper can go in the green compost bin.

The countertop food scraps bin provided by my city (for the pilot program) has a sticker illustrating what should go into the bin.

Follow the guidance provided by your local authorities and/or the garbage collection service. They have different ways of processing food scraps and what goes in one bin in one town might go into a different bin in a neighboring town.

At least on our bins there's a sticker with pictures that shows what should/should not go into each bin.
 
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