Compost is a very rich natural soil that is created from decomposed organic material. Compost enriches the earth and serves as a fertilizer and a pesticide. I have been composting in Queens County in New York City for more than fifteen years.
There are many good articles describing the techniques and methods of composting; in addition, there is an abundant supply of information on how to build bins and reviews of pre made bins. It is simple to do and nature does most of the work.
In New York City it is estimated that each household throws out 2 pounds of organic waste each day. Over the years the New York City Sanitation Department has supported the Compost Project. In years past they would have several special leaf pick ups during the fall and in the spring time sponsor compost give backs. At the give back events NYC residents would get free compost and vendors would sell compost bins at subsidized prices. Unfortunately, the program was stopped several years ago due to budget constraints.
Compost is best made from a combination of “browns” (high carbon material) and “greens” (high nitrogen material). Some of the items I put in my compost bins are leaves, old plants, old potting soil, coffee grinds, tea bags, grass clippings, fruit rinds, banana peels, stale bread, egg shells, and potato peels.
I usually cut up fruit rinds into smaller pieces so they rot quicker; I also us the mulching mower on the leaves to break them down.
I avoid putting any meats in the bins so as not to attract any unwanted small animals and pests. I also avoid items that contain food oils such as salad dressings since they are slow to decay.
The compost pile needs to be kept moist and turned regularly. I keep bags of leaves and after I add to or turn the pile I put a layer of dry leaves on top to prevent any odors. In my yard I have a corner where I keep a layer of leaves on the ground; this four by eight foot area is a breeding ground for earth worms. Many earth worms naturally find there way to the compost pile but I do add more. Earth worms are nature’s great workers in the decomposition process.
I did buy several compost bins at a NYC Sanitation Compost Event some years back. They are made by Garden Gourmet and hold 11 cubic feet of material. They are sturdy and have lasted for years. The bins area assembled easily like a big Lego set. I keep a wire mesh underneath them so no pests can burrow in. The lid can be taken off; there is a front door on the bottom that lifts so you can take the compost out. I purchased them for the subsidized price of twenty dollars each. Click on the pictures to view them.
I did recently move to New Jersey but still maintain my garden in Queens. Regardless of where we reside our society needs to practice the ideals of Earth Day every day. We need to conserve, reclaim, reuse and recycle. Composting is an easy way to contribute. If composting can be done in New York City it can be done anywhere.