Composting in Style: Home Composting Tips

Transform kitchen scraps into compost gold.

| May/June 2004

Composting—the controlled natural decomposition of organic material such as leaves, grass clippings, prunings, and fruit and vegetable scraps—happens with the help of oxygen-using microorganisms that transform these materials into compost, or humus, a nutrient-rich and biologically diverse soil enricher. The benefits are many. You save money by reducing the need to purchase fertilizers and soil amendments. Compost improves soil health and fertility and prevents erosion. It conserves water by helping the soil hold more moisture. And it helps the environment by diverting valuable organic materials from the landfill or incinerator.

Chic countertop collectors

Collecting vegetable and fruit parings, stale bread, and other scraps for your compost pile need not detract from your kitchen décor. A handpainted bowl covered with a perforated lid, a colander, or a cloth shields materials from view and insects, yet allows air to circulate, preventing mold and odors. For added style, use a china soup tureen (the ladle opening conveniently lets in air) or a small splatterware cooking pot with a lid.

Several companies offer sleek countertop collectors for compostibles. Gardeners Supply, (888) 833-1412, makes a 3.5-quart kitchen compost crock, available in cobalt blue or white, that looks like attractive china kitchenware. An activated carbon filter in the lid prevents odors, so you can go days before emptying. The company also offers five-quart containers in stainless steel and pressed copper, and a gallon-sized terra-cotta crock. Biodegradable cornstarch plastic liners are also available to keep your countertop container from getting messy.

Composters as lawn features

The humble outdoor composter, where organics are transformed into humus, is often relegated to a corner of the yard, out of view. For people with small yards, the idea of an open compost pile or a black plastic composter within sight of a patio or bay window can be a deal breaker. However, with a little creativity, composters can complement your backyard scenery.

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