Central Standard
12:00 pm
Wed May 25, 2011

Residential Composting

Dan Heryer and Brooke Salvaggio from BADSEED Farms visit the studio to talk about ways to compost at home and their new residential composting program starting next month. 

Brooke says that 75% of our household waste is compostable.  Residential composting can be done using any natural materials. 

Everyone can begin composting, no matter how many acres of land or square footage of room you have.  If you have a small apartment, you can compost under your own sink in a bin (that is a bin you would perhaps store winter clothes in but with small air holes for air flow). 

The best at-home method, according to Dan and Brooke is called verma composting, which utilizes various species of worms.  Worms are best because they yield an odorless way of composting.  These little helpers are very active and efficient in breaking down your waste before it starts to produce any odor.  The best type of worm are called “red wigglers” which can be purchased at Windswept Worm Farms in Kansas City or from various online sources. 

Once you have your large bin, your worms, and your place to store it (anywhere not in the open), you lay down some newspaper scraps and some potting soil, and then add the worms.  Next, you add the food scraps and other natural materials, the worms will tear that up, eat it, and then they multiply.  The worms will start to produce what Dan and Brooke call “black gold,” or worm castings.  These castings will be separated from the worms and added to your garden’s soil.  Dan explains that this material enhances your soil and your plants by providing organic matter.  The compost gives a nice balance of nitrogen, phosphorous and carbon, which plants need and thrive on. 

Brooke says composting is all about balance.  The newspaper (and most kinds of paper for that matter) adds carbon to the mixture, as well as something to absorb any odors. 

So exactly what materials are compostable?  Dan explains that all organic matter can be used.  This includes all kitchen food scraps, including meat, dairy and cooked foods.  Some at-home composters exlude these items so as not to attract rodents, but they are nonetheless compostable.  Also, Kleenex, newspaper, wax paper, and all sorts of paper can be used, such as: grass yard waste, garden debris, animal manure and bedding, and sawdust.

KCUR listener Mindy from Fairway, Kansas says she does at-home composting but without the worms.  She swears by her indoor kitchen composter bucket available at many local retailers.  She sprinkles dry sawdust material on top of the food after its placed in the bucket.  This material speeds up fermentation and doesn’t leave a smell. 

Another listener asked where they could buy an outdoor compost bin.  Dan and Brooke recommend making your own with just a 55 gallon drum, typically used as rain barrels.  There are many ways of building your own and a number of retail locations that supply affordable ones in different shapes and sizes.

For those of you who are not able to compost at home but are looking for alternative ways, Brooke and Dan are starting a residential composting program at their URBAVORE farmstead.  Starting June 4th, they will be inviting everyone to drop off their residential waste.  If you bring your compostable goods, BADSEED will happily compost it for you.  Dan says this will help their farm and produce a symbiotic relationship.  Brooke says your leftover meatloaf can be turned into next season’s heirloom tomatoes!  They will not be taking prairie brush this year, like sticks and branches, but any other yard waste like grass clippings are accepted. 

After June 4th, this program will run year round from 9am to 6pm, Wednesday thru Saturday.

 

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