Your kitchen waste is a composter’s goldmine, chock full of nutrients that will feed your plants and improve garden soil. Plant-based kitchen scraps, like coffee grounds, tea bags, banana peels, apple cores, potato peelings, eggshells and old bread, are a fantastic source of nitrogen needed to decompose more bulky, carbon-rich landscape waste. How compost enthusiasts handle their kitchen waste varies by the amount of waste they generate, space availability and convenience.
Regardless of how you plan to handle your kitchen scraps, it’s a good idea to store waste in a compost bucket as it is generated. Collecting scraps in a compost bucket inside and adding to the pile when the bucket is full rather than making several trips to the pile throughout the day is a common sense way to conserve time and energy.
Compost pails can be purchased online, but it’s relatively easy to make your own. Look for an airtight, watertight container. Recycled plastic yogurt or ice cream containers are one of the least expensive options, although over time a residue of tricky-to-clean kitchen funk will build up on the inner wall of the container. Ceramic pails are easier to keep clean, and they’re certainly more attractive than recycled plastic. Check out your local thrift store for a suitable ceramic container, like a flour canister or a cookie jar, if you aren’t comfortable using a piece from your current dinnerware collection for a kitchen compost bin.
Some composters like to line their buckets with a compostable bag. Compost bags have the feel and flexibility of plastic, but they’re made from biodegradable plant materials. Although these have lots of practical applications in the home and landscape, they’re not really necessary in this situation. The compostable bags start to decompose when they come in contact with moisture, and much of your kitchen scraps will start to break down the bag before you’re ready to trek to the pile. The result could be a sloppy mess!
Collect kitchen scraps until your bucket, pail or bag is full. You can keep your container in the freezer to keep the waste from decomposing into a stinky, drippy mess. If you’re emptying the container about once a week, the smell and mess factor won’t be as big of an issue if you’d prefer to store on the counter or under the sink.
Add to Vermicompost
Photo by: DK – Ready Set Grow!
© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
DK – Ready Set Grow!
, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Worms love to eat scraps from the kitchen. If you’re an apartment dweller or have limited space, but you want to compost too, consider building a simple worm compost bin. The worms will turn your food waste into rich vermicompost.
Add to Bokashi Compost
Photo by: DK – Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots
© 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited
DK – Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots
, 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Animal products like meat, dairy and fats are avoided in most compost methods because they may attract pests or promote bacteria that compete with the oxygen loving decomposers in the pile. However, these ingredients are fine for Bokashi compost methods.
Add to Traditional Compost
Even if you avoid animal-based kitchen waste, unwelcome critters may still be attracted to food scraps in your compost bin. If you don’t have a compost bin that has a secure, animal-proof lid, you’ll need to make sure that your food scraps are buried several inches deep inside the pile.