If composting is an activity on your list of ways to live greener, here's how to get started in Manalapan and Englishtown.
Emily Bishton, a designer of sustainable landscapes and an environmental educator for children and adults, says, "Home composting is a fun and easy way to make fabulous and free soil amendments to make all the plants in your garden healthier," Bishton says. "It also eliminates the carbon emissions that are needed to truck your food and yard waste to composting facilities, truck the finished compost back to a retail outlet, and then to your home.”
Collecting Kitchen Compost
Composting starts in the kitchen. First, you'll want to set up a system for catching compostable materials during your meal and snack clean up process. These include vegetable scraps, grains and pasta, fruit rinds and peels, breads and cereals, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, egg shells and paper napkins. Here's a list of things you can or cannot compost.
You'll need a small container with a tight fitting lid for the kitchen that can be easily cleaned once you transfer the compostable materials to your outside compost bin. You'll want to keep the outside of the container clean, and empty it frequently to avoid excessive odor and fruit flies. You can purchase compost pails online from Gardeners Supply Company or a stylish pottery one from artist Kim Berger. Or see the below list of local resources.
Outdoor Compost Bins and Piles
It's fast and easy to create an outdoor compost bin, says Bishton. “You can create a yard waste compost bin in 10 minutes, with a 10-15 ft section of wire fencing made into a hoop, to toss all your trimmings and leaves into. Wet it down until it's like a damp sponge, and cover with some cardboard or old plastic, and you're done! Turn and re-wet it every few weeks to speed up the composting, or just let it decompose as is."
Or, if you've got a small yard, you might want to buy an enclosed compost bin. See the list of Local Resources below.
It turns out, if you're a passionate gardener who's after really great compost, you need a worm bin. If you're already collecting kitchen scraps (vegetable, fruit and grains only, no meat or dairy), this is where the kids come in. They can help manage the worm bin. It's easy once you get started with the proper bedding and feeding method. You can build your own worm bin or purchase worms and bins at one of the Local Resources listed below.
A Family Affair
Composting as a family is a fun activity and a great way to help kids learn to be better stewards of the environment, says Bishton. “Decomposition is a very interesting and fun-to-observe natural process for kids, as they typically enjoy exploring the 'unseen world' of roly-polys, worms, and potato bugs," she says.
She says getting the whole family involved is one of the easiest and most empowering ways for kids to make an earth-friendly impact at home. "Get them involved in checking the progress of the compost by occasionally tossing some out onto a piece of tarp for them to poke around in. Spreading the beautiful 'black gold' of finished compost over the roots of their favorite garden plants is fun too!”
The Monmouth County Division of Planning is offering several spring composting workshops. The workshops cost $35; pre-registration is required. For more information on the workshops, click here.
17 Sweetmans Lane
Bulk's Garden Center
537 Monmouth Road
Four Seasons Nursery
299 Woodward Road
Beths Garden Center
693 Tennent Road
Ready to get started? Here are some of our favorite resources from around the web.
Tell Us: Do you compost at home? Or are you thinking of starting to compost? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.