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Go Greener by Composting Your Kitchen Waste

Throwing your kitchen scraps into a composting bin can give you a potent fertilizer for your plants or garden and reduce your carbon footprint.

For those of you who already recycle and are looking to further reduce your environmental impact, composting can be a fun and rewarding activity. It’s also a resourceful way to feed your houseplants or garden.

But what if you don’t live in a house or have a yard for big composting bins? If you have extra space in a closet or a cabinet, have a balcony or are allowed on the roof of your apartment building, you can still compost effectively.

Compost can be made up of almost everything you throw away in your kitchen. Fruit scraps, vegetable waste, paper napkins and even coffee grounds can make for a suitable compost fertilizer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

To get started, you can use a few five-gallon buckets to make your own compost bin. You can also buy special indoor bins from hardware and gardening stores or purchase them online. Backyard bins can be bought from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works for $40 each.

Hermosa Beach residents can buy regular composting bins from the city $35 and worm composting bins for $70. There’s a limit of one bin per resident. Pay for your bin at the Hermosa Beach Finance Center, located at 1315 Valley Dr., Monday through Thursday. For more information, call 310-318-0242.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works will hold a composting workshop at Columbia Park, located at 18721 Prairie Ave. in nearby Torrance, June 1 from 9:30-11 a.m. The workshop will provide hands-on instruction in advanced techniques of composting and sustainable gardening.

The EPA offers a few tips on how to create an effective compost mixture:

  • Browns - This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
  • Greens - This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
  • Water - Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.

Your compost pile should have an equal amount of browns to greens. You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.

For the adventurous, adding worms to your heap can help make your mixture a richer fertilizer. Worms will aerate your mixture while burrowing for food and they excrete a natural substance that contains more nutrients than topsoil.

Do you compost? Are you planning on starting? Share some of your tips or experiences in the comments below.

Kari Walker March 28, 2013 at 08:06 PM
I think one of the best ways to handle kitchen scraps is vermicomposting which is by using a worm bin. For those of us living in small spaces with out much yard a worm bin can be kept in any shady spot,. Make sure it is shady because it will get too hot for the worms and they will die if the sun shines on the bin. You can build one by getting 2 large bins from Target. Punch a lot of holes in the bottom and some on the sides near the bottom. As the worms eat the stuff you put in there great compost is created to use on plants and some liquid that can also be used on p,ants as a fertilizer or as a spray for bugs if you have them on your plants. What can go in there? Anything that is not fat or protein. You can put tortillas in there and even paper towels if there is no bleach used when the paper towels were made. Put all vegetable matter in there like carrot tops, banana peels, left over raw veggies of any kind . If you are eating the amount of veggies that you should at home you should have a ton of scraps you could put into the bin. I always put the first bin inside the 2nd bin setting on soup cans to allow enough space for the water to collect in the bottom and not flood the worms above. I am out of space here but if you want the rest of the story contact me at the Community Garden in South Park inside the old skating rink. OR look for the article on our web page coming soon as I can get the worm bin article posted there. HermosaBeachCommunityGarden.com Kari )

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