There are a few products that help composting made easy in the kitchen. It is great to compost–doing great things for the earth and our environment but how do you store all those kitchen scraps??
Here is the ultimate in recycling by making composting easy in the kitchen. I save all my old plastic storage bags (recycling step 1) and then I re-use them to put my kitchen scraps in (recycling step 2!). I used to hate to throw away these bags after one use so this is a great solution for me.
This trash can is the perfect place to put the filled plastic bags. When a bag is full I zip it up and place it into this container on my back porch–easily accessible but not in the kitchen.
This is a great trash can for storing kitchen scraps because it is not too large with a very close-fitting lid. I use it most of the winter to store the kitchen scraps. Most of the time it is so cold that the scraps don’t decompose; so they don’t smell bad. I actually have 2 of these trash cans.
When I am ready, I take all the stuff to the Compact Compost Tumbler in one trip. This makes it easier when it is really cold. I have found these trash cans to be so helpful. And I don’t have to worry about any wildlife getting into them. The lid is well secured and there is no plastic to chew through. They also sell these at Home Depot.
This kitchen compost bucket is what I started with but my kids adopted it. With a carbon activated filter in the top, it is odor free if emptied on a regular basis.
It is smaller so it fills up faster but the size and design make it convenient to keep in the kitchen. It is easy to wash and easy for kids to carry out to the compost bin. My grandchildren used to bring it over all the time to dump into my compostumbler (they live right behind me!). Now they have their own compost pile so it is a short trip for them to dump it out.
You may ask what worms eat? Kitchen scraps is the main answer! But we have to clarify what kind of worms we are talking about and what kind of kitchen scraps. This discussion is about what composting worms eat. They are also known as red wigglers, red worms or eisenia fetida. This pictures is showing the worms that were eating the cantaloupe rind that was pulled back.
Years ago, when I started worm composting I threw all of our kitchen scraps into the worm bin. It gradually became a stinky, moldy, fruit-fly infested mess. Basically I was feeding them too much food. And food that they weren’t particularly fond of. I eventually had to throw out the whole contents of the worm bin. And being thoroughly disgusted and discouraged I did not try it again until years later.
For the last three years I have been worm composting again. Worms don’t need a tremendous amount of food to live well in newspaper bedding. In fact, in a mature worm bin (one that is almost fully composted) I have left my worms without feeding them for weeks and they continue to do fine. I am sure that at this point there are small bits of undigested food in the bin and they also live off of the newspaper.
One thing to remember is that the worms are not going to eat the food right away. It has to start decomposing a little before they chow down. That might take a day or two for cucumber peelings or melon rinds and a little longer for pumpkin or squash. Here you can see cucumber peelings that are almost all eaten. And below that are cucumber peelings and cantaloupe rinds that I have just added to the worm bin. Some people cut up the food into small pieces to speed up the process but I just put it in whole and it still works fine.
My worms love:
Cucumber and zuchinni peelings
Cantalope and watermelon rinds
Butternut squash and pumpkin
Coffee grounds and tea bags (but not too much coffee, it can be acidic)
Small amount of crushed eggshells
Shredded leaves that have no chemicals on them
Small amount of soil for grit for their gizzards
I put potato peelings in once and saw them untouched and undecomposed for the life of that worm bin so I don’t usually add potato peelings. They will actually eat melon rind until only the very outer skin is left. It looks like paper and is somewhat transparent. And then they eat that too.
There is a book called Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System, and I would change the title to Worms Eat Some of My Garbage. I have always needed some other disposal method for my other kitchen scraps. So I have compost tumblers. I have 2 worm bins and the worms could never eat all the vegetable and fruit kitchen scraps that we produce. So if you are really going green you need more than a worm bin to take care of all your vegetable and kitchen scraps.
I am emphasizing fruit and vegetable scraps because there are other kitchen scraps that worms either don’t like or the addition would make the bin too stinky and might attract pests:
Meat and fish scraps
Dog and Cat poop
Acidic fruits and vegetables such as orange peels, tomatoes and onions
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I have created an informational PowerPoint video turned into a movie, as an Introduction to Worm Composting. It is an excellent narrated presentation using my photos, text and video clips for a great Intro to Worm Composting. I give you a heads up about what mistakes I have made so you won’t have to make them yourself! You can download the Power Point/video to your computer for $1.99 or rent it for $.99. Click on this link which will take you to Gumroad, a secure site, where I sell my products:
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Go green-compost wasted food and kitchen scraps! You would be amazed by how many food scraps you throw away. In an article in the NY Times: From Farm to Fridge to Garbage Can Tara Parker-Pope talks about how much wasted food there is in the US. From rotting food in the fields to food scraps getting lost in the refrigerator. Several studies were done estimating that we waste about 25% of the food that we buy.
The wasted food from our homes ends up in the landfill unless we do something ourselves to process it and keep it out of the garbage. We are running out of space for landfills in some areas of our country. Kitchen scraps make up approximately 20% of what is in our landfills. When this food rots in an anaerobic environment it produces methane gas which is a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming.
Another issue about food rotting in landfills is that it could really be rotting in compost piles or vermicomposters, using aerobic processes which could give the goodness of the food back to our land. In a local government website that encourages composting they state that their only landfill is already half full. They recommend vermicomposting or soil incorporation. Because of a rodent problem in that area, composting food scraps in compost bins is not permitted. Soil incorporation involves burying your food scraps underground. I have often buried my food scraps and it works out well. You get exercise digging the holes and the scraps enrich your garden soil. They decompose quickly. I have gone back after a few weeks to see their status and mostly they have disappeared. Once you have the food scraps in the hole you need to chop them into smaller particles with the shovel and mix them into the dirt. This speeds the decomposition process.
So, go green this New Year and consider recycling your food scraps with vermicomposting, composting or soil incorporation. In my experience worm composting will not take care of all your food scraps so consider a secondary composting method also.
What better way to start a new, greener year than to make a commitment to some type of composting. It works out well for all of us and the Earth, the soil, the environment, all the organisms that live in the soil and for the landfills!