Simple Composting Methods

Help green the planet with these tidy and effective ways to turn your kitchen scraps into soil builder.

| July/August 1990

A wilted broccoli stalk, a grapefruit peel, a carrot top. That's energy—solidified sunlight—you're throwing out with the rest of the trash and entombing in another too-full landfill. Energy that could be turned into compost for houseplants, ornamentals or the home garden. By placing composted vegetable scraps from your garden back into your garden, you have created the smallest and simplest recycling loop—without making a single trip to the local recycling center.

Are you hesitant? Does it sound like a messy job, only for those dedicated gardeners with monstrous compost piles? Then let us offer for your consideration four effective, tidy composting methods to convert your food waste to soil builder.

The Trench Compost Method

If you have a garden, you can bury your scraps right there and let them compost underground. Just keep your kitchen scraps in a plastic bucket with a lid.

Potato peels, citrus rinds, greens, leftover vegetables, eggshells and bread—just about any nonmeat food residues can be easily composted. Whenever the bucket starts to get full, take it out to the garden, dig a ditch between the rows of one of your crops or in a currently unused bed, dump the garbage in and cover it up. The scraps will decompose in situ and add their nutrients to the soil.

You wouldn't want to plant directly above a trench-composted area for six weeks or so, until the leftovers have had a chance to compost, but growing crops don't mind a few scraps between their rows.

This is the simplest and most direct way for home gardeners to recycle their food wastes. It only has one hitch: winter. It's pretty hard to trench compost in December if you live in an area where the ground freezes.

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