It's a mystery to me why all gardeners don't make their own compost. It is an important part of gardening, will help enrich your soil, and it cuts down on the amount of rubbish that sits decomposing in the council rubbish dump. Why send your kitchen and garden waste to the dump to decompose when it would help you grow vegetables and flowers while contributing to the health of your soil? Of course, the way you compost will be determined by your climate, how much waste you have to compost and how much time you have to do it. If you aren't composting now in some form, and have the means to do it, I hope you'll think about it now and give it a go. I have written about compost a few times before here and here, so this post will be the odds and ends associated with composting and, hopefully, a motivation for you to start composting if you haven't done so already.
There is a hierarchy of household waste that I've written about here. When you think about this hierarchy, also think about the wildlife you have in your backyard. If you have rats, mice, possums, foxes, coyotes, bears or wild cats, you'll have to be careful not to put food in your compost heap that will attract those animals. Generally it's a rule that you don't put meat or dairy products in the compost heap as this will certainly attract animals even if you've never had any in the past. Attracting animals with your compost is a problem in the country and in semi rural areas, but even if you live in the middle of the city or in the suburbs, you'll attract cats and rats if you continue to put meat out.
Remember there is more than one way to recycle waste. You could also build a worm farm, or use your chickens or dogs to recycle some of your kitchen scraps. Chooks love to eat meat and chicken, and they love eggs, old bits of toast and cake and all forms of dairy. If you give these tasty morsels to your chooks, it will increase their level of protein food and, hopefully, their egg production.
If you have chickens, dogs or worms, you'll need to decide where your kitchen waste will go. The hierarchy again! If you have meat scraps or any other food that would attract the wildlife in your backyard, give those scraps to the chooks or dogs straight away, it will supplement the food you generally feed them. If you're going to compost, start by putting a small container, with a lid, in the kitchen in which to put your compostable kitchen waste. This will hold all your fruit and vegetable peelings, crushed or pulverised egg shells, tea leaves or tea bags and coffee grinds. Empty the little container every day into the compost heap or bin.
You will need a lot more dry material for your compost than wet material. Read about the importance of this in the links above. Dry material can be old newspapers, cardboard, old telephone books, junk mail, worn out cotton dishcloths or clothes, hair, feathers, wool or any other worn out item that is not man-made. Plastic and polyester will not decompose. You'll need about two thirds dry to one third wet material, so if you can gather a lot of these dry materials, you'll have the beginnings of a good compost heap. You'll need to keep your compost moist, not wet and you'll speed up decomposition if you add comfrey or comfrey tea to your heap. Make the compost according to the information provided and your own climate and conditions, add your kitchen scraps, and turn the material over to incorporate air and you're on your way to good compost.
Composting is an ideal activity for those of us who live simply. It reduces household waste and it helps us use what we have to its fullest extent - from new, right through until it decomposes and returns to the earth. It helps us see waste in a more productive way, instead of giving it to someone else to take care of. It encourages us to feel responsible for what we bring into our homes - we look for natural products that will be compostable in a few years time instead of buying plastic or polyester. But most of all, I love composting because it allows me to take full responsibility for what I buy. If it comes here, I want it to stay here and not be part of the growing problem of landfill. I hope I've encouraged you to think about composting in some form. There are few hard and fast rules for composting, each climatic zone tends to come up with it own innovative solutions. If you're composting already, I'd love to know what you're doing. I am always open to new ideas and keen to learn.