Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Have you noticed how much longer the days are getting recently? Yes, the spring is coming! I love spring and even more I love summer. With the days warming up, the nature is waking up again. And guess what? This is a perfect time to start thinking about setting up your own composting system. Whether you are a beginner or you have been composting for a long time, I will do my best to create a supportive environment for all of you and make the composting even fun. I will share with you my composting experience and I hope you will share yours as well.

About a week ago I had a very productive weekend. I bought my first composting bin and I set it up in my garden. The composting bin I purchased is The Earth Machine (http://www.earthmachine.com/). I chose this particular bin mostly because of its low price and convenience as I was able to buy it at my local farm in Westchester, NY. If you are interested, check out their web site: http://www.hilltophanoverfarm.org/. Hilltop Hanover Farm is owned by the Westchester County, NY and run by Friends of Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center, Inc. The Earth Machine costs $139 on Amazon. The good news is that you can buy The Earth Machine for less than half of that price. In fact many municipalities offer Earth Machine through their municipal programs, so before you buy your composting bin online, check if The Earth Machine is being sold locally for a fraction of the cost of the composting bins available online.

I took some pictures of my new composting bin and other tools in my composting collection, as well as some pictures of organic waste that is now “cooking” in my bin. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

In the near future I am going to write a post about different composting systems and tools that will help you in your composting process. Some of you who were brave enough to take The Composting Challenge 2011 were also interested in vermicomposting and I will discuss this topic as well. I am looking forward to learn what system you chose and how it has been working for you. Let’s get composting!

Basic tools you need for composting - composting bin, small composter for your kitchen (optional) and aerator.

Greens and browns for the composting.

Kitchen waste - I collect my kitchen waste in this small kitchen composter with a filter to eliminate the odors. When you use this system you can keep your organic waste in the kitchen for several days reducing the number of trips to your garden composting bin.
Add your kitchen waste to the composting bin.
Add your yard waste such as leaves, hay, grass and plant trimmings. 

Mix everything together and you are done!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Composting is a natural biological process that accelerates the breakdown of organic materials. The product of composting is compost, an essential part of healthy crops.
The composting process supports the production of beneficial micro-organisms that create humus. Humus is rich in nutrients that are slowly released into the soil for plant use and improved soil structure. The organic matter in compost increases the soil’s ability to retain moisture and reduces its erosion.[1] Researchers also believe that organic farming with compost decreases the occurrence of insect problems and plant diseases.
According to a research study performed at the University of California at Berkeley, organic fertilizers improve the overall nutritional status of crops, and also support resistance to insect attacks.[2] Furthermore, a study conducted by Italian researchers in 2004 claims that composting improves the soil porosity and the soil aggregation. The results of this study confirmed that compost improves soil pore system characteristics.[3] Better infiltration of both air and water into the root zone improves plant health. The combination of less fertilizer being applied and better penetration into the soil reduces runoff into rivers and streams as well as erosion of topsoil. In fact, researchers at the University of Missouri concluded that: “The use of food waste in producing composts for amending soils removes a major and problematic component from the waste generation cycle and provides a valuable, recycled product that can benefit soil fertility and crop productivity.”[1]  Finally, composting conserves the landfill space and serves also as a marketable commodity.

[1] Nathan Means, Christopher Starbuck, Robert Kremer, Lewis Jett , “Effects of a Food Waste-based Soil Conditioner on Soil Properties and Plant Growth”, Compost Science and Utilization June 2005, http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=164606
[2] Miguel A. Altieri, Clara I. Nicholls, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Division of Insect Biology, “Soil fertility management and insect pests: harmonizing soil and plant health in agroecosystems”, University of California at Berkeley, March 2002, http://www.agroeco.org/doc/soil-pestmgmt.pdf

[3] M. Pagliai, N. Vignozzi, S. Pellegrini, Istituto Sperimentale per lo Studio e la Difesa del Suolo, Italy, Soil structure and the effect of management practices”, September 2004, http://agroeco.org/doc/soil-pestmgmt.pdf


My name is Jana and I am a creator of this blog. This year, I decided to start my first garden composting. I would like to find at least other 100 people to join me in this challenge. Together we can use valuable organic waste, which would otherwise end up in landfills, to enhance the quality of soil in our local communities.

Did you know that food waste represents the third largest source of municipal solid waste in the US? This accounts for more than 14.1% of the total municipal solid waste stream. In addition, yard trimmings represent another 13.7% of municipal waste! What is alarming it the fact that only 3% of the food waste generated in 2009 was recovered and recycled, the rest was thrown away into landfills or incinerators. (Source: U.S. EPA)
The food waste and other organic matter that ends up in landfills create methane, a green house gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2). According to IPCC’s SAR (Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, Second Assessment Report) this means that the ability of methane to trap the heat in the atmosphere is 21 times higher when compared to CO2 over a 100-year time period. By removing the food waste and other organic matter from the landfills, we can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), improve soil health and structure, increase drought resistance, and reduce the need for supplemental water, fertilizers, and pesticides. (Source: U.S. EPA)
Now you know more about composting and its numerous benefits. Are you ready to take the challenge and start your own compost? All you need to do is fill out a simple survey so we can track our progress, make or buy your own composting bin and follow this blog for helpful tips and advice. You can also share your own experiences, concerns and success stories with others right in this blog!