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Composting

Composting can save you money and extend the life of landfills while creating a product that protects your landscaping.

Replacing store bought fertilizers with compost, made from items you would have normally thrown out, minimizes damage to your soil. Compost can play a dual role, as mulch and organic fertilizer, by reducing soil erosion while giving your plants and lawn a healthy medium to grow in. Synthetic (non-organic) fertilizers leave by-products in your ground, called salts, after your plants have absorbed the viable components of the fertilizer, and accumulation of the leftover salts negatively affects the composition of your topsoil.

“Topsoil … is the most important part of the soil for food production, for soil management and for degradation control” according to the U.N.’s soil report.

Using compost instead of, or in addition to, commercially produced fertilizers can be one of the easiest ways to improve the health of, and extend the life of, your landscaping. Compost can be made from yard trimmings and food residuals, which constitute 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream, according to the EPA, plus fibrous materials such as cardboard. Compost piles can be held in a variety of containers, found in varying price categories, ranging from a cheap, simple, home constructed composting structure made from chicken wire and garden stakes, to store bought plastic bins with built in tumblers.

Three suggestions for maximizing the amount you compost:

1. While cooking and baking, keep a designated “compost bowl” out on the counter and throw any fruit or vegetable scraps, eggshells, paper or cardboard packaging, unused grains or pasta (that do not contain added fats such as butter or oil) into it as you work. When you are finished, simply dump the entire contents of the bowl into your compost pile.

2. Keep children interested by giving them their own composting container to tend to. Go one step further by using the red worm method of composting, also known as vermicomposting. Yes, it involves using live worms!

3. Use your lawn mower to run over fallen leaves in the fall, then use the chopped leaves, along with your grass clippings, in your compost pile or give them away to a community composting site.

Composting Resources

SOCCRA Community Compost Site located in Rochester Hills, 248-651-7840

Tuthill Composting, South Lyon, 734-449-5764

Red worm composting information:

http://www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-2961_2971-62499--,00.html

http://www.wormwoman.com

How to construct a composting pile:

USDA compost


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