Recycling is hard. Maybe that’s just me, but in all seriousness, trying to remember not to use plastic, making sure to put paper and disposable garbage in two separate bins, and all that other stuff is just too much to think about. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite passionate about saving this environment and I really try the best I can, as we all do. But for some of us, it’s a hard change to make after getting so used to living in a world of plastic. Being in the garden all summer, I came upon a process known as composting. I’ve heard that term quite a few times in my life and so have many of you. It’s that process that magically changes garbage in to soil, right? Not necessarily. There is a lot more to this natural way of recycling than meets the eye.
Let’s start with what exactly composting is. Imagine being able to get rid of most of that garbage that is just piling up in those landfills and still be able to have a use for it. Composting is a process that can essentially turn trash into an environmental treasure, and who doesn’t want that? Composting breaks down dead plants’ tissues turning it into beautiful, healthy soil for new plants to grow. In this process, organisms, such as redworms, act like Mother Nature’s personal workers, eating all that good food that we call garbage, speeding along the composting process. It sounds yucky, but if you think about it, it’s like us getting to eat at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I know I would kill for a job like that! You can pile up your orange peels and eggshells in a corner of your backyard and wait for it to turn to dirt. Even with the help of those earthworms, this process will take a while. There is a much faster and organized way to get that process moving. It’s the farmer’s way.
Your first step to making amazing soil is to get a bin to put all your compost in. It’ll make your pile much neater and the process work faster. The bonus is you can totally mask that nasty odor that you may start smelling later on. No one wants his or her house smelling like manure. Now to make the perfect compost that’s going to turn into the soil perfection, there’s a little recipe. The best compost has two main things: green stuff (nitrogen) and brown stuff (carbon). The green stuff is all the grass you cut last week, the lettuce that may have been in the fridge too long, and any other type of plant waste. The green stuff is important because it carries high amounts of nitrogen, which helps the microorganisms work their jobs more properly. The brown stuff consists of things like dead leaves and pine needles. This is important to have because they contain carbon, which gives all of Mother Nature’s personal workers energy to get the job done. In addition to all the greens and browns, you can put other things, like newspapers, because they are biodegradable, or in other words, they can decompose. Try not to put any meat, bones, or dairy products into your compost. All those things do are make your compost stink even more along with calling a couple of rodent friends over to find a new home. Turn the compost every few weeks to give the decomposers fresh oxygen to speed up the process.
If you follow these simple guidelines to make some amazing compost in up to 2 months at the least, you’ll have some dark, earthy smelling soil that is super healthy and ready to be used in your garden. The amazing thing is you’ll be recycling the Mother Nature way. It might not be the same as trying to stop the use of plastic and sorting all your garbage, but it is an amazing way to see with your own eyes the magic that is nature, turning trash into an environmental treasure!
written by Roua Eltayeib, a Sprout Farms summer intern and graduate of the Brooklyn Latin School.