Composting | Turn Your Garbage to Dirt

We tried to start composting at our little Downtown Tupelo duplex a year and a half ago and it kind of worked, but mostly we just got garden boogers and browner banana peels. Since moving and taking on larger gardening projects, we’ve found compost to be an essential element to our gardening and a great way to save money and reduce our waste. We wanted to share a few tips and tricks to get you started.

Get a good composting container– but it doesn’t have to be expensive.

This garbage can was in our back yard when we moved into our house. We cut the bottom off for use as a compost bin.

This garbage can was in our back yard when we moved into our house. We cut the bottom off for use as a compost bin.

We took an old green Rubbermaid garbage can and sawed the bottom off. The compost needs to have access to the ground (this allows worms and other earthy organisms get into your compost and aerate it). We chose an area of our yard with enough sunlight to heat the compost but is far enough away to not smell. It’s also close enough to the house to not be a burden. If you put your compost pile super far away, you’ll probably use your trash can more and the whole composting idea will be moot.

Get a small indoor container.

We keep the inside compost container on our kitchen counter and empty once every day or two.

We keep the inside compost container on our kitchen counter and empty once every day or two.

April and I can be very leisure inclined (read lazy) at times. When we started composting we would take a trip to the backyard composting container after each meal preparation but as our inclinations toward blankets and naps set in, our kitchen began to fill with fruit flies. Now we have a half gallon, air-tight container that we fill with banana peels, avocado skins, cardboard packaging, slimy-old lettuce, coffee grounds, etc. When the container is full, we carry it out to our compost bin and dump it. No arguments, no fruit flies, no worries.

Starting Off

Once you have a container with the bottom cut out, layer twigs and straw along the bottom of the container, this will create a sort-drain/aeration layer at the bottom of the pile. And that’s it. Now you’re ready to compost.

Put your left overs in the pile and make sure to do everything in layers. If you put in a bunch of egg shells and slimy banana peels, follow it with a layer of dry brown leaves.If you put some newspaper it, toss onto some moist green grass clippings or coffee grounds. Make sure you have good layers of dry and wet and make sure you keep it covered and in an area where it will get sun-hot during the day – like a less shady part of your backyard, or Mississippi. Every few weeks stir the pile so that the bottoms come to the top and the tops go to the bottom.

The Guidelines

Veggies, drier lint, gras clippings and dirt.

Veggies, drier lint, gras clippings and dirt.

You can put almost anything natural in the compost bin, but no animal products(and maybe weeds that are quick to spread). There is a great list over at The key is to make sure you have a good balance of carbon (wood ash, limbs, saw dust, newspapers, egg shells, corn husks) and nitrogen (green grass clippings, veggie scraps).

Composting is beneficial for you and the earth

Think about how much paper, food waste, yard scraps you throw away into a landfill each year. How many full garbage bags do you have on trash day? Two? I’d be willing to wager a successful composting operation could eliminate one of those bags.

The cool think I learned is that composting is passive on my part but very active on nature’s part. It’s fast. The scraps don’t immediately turn into great garden soil, but they break down quickly. I have filled my bin to the brim at least three times with grass and veggie scraps and when I go back out in a week, the materials have broken down enough to dump another load in the bin.

If money grew on trees (that we fed with our compost…), I would get one of the mounted round compost bins with a handle that can be spun each time new compost is added. They’re about $250 so I’m going to just do it with a shovel and elbow grease for now.   Have you ever tried to compost before? What have your experiences been like?

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