Start Your Own Compost Pile
Food scraps make up over 12 percent of the U.S. waste stream. According to the EPA, Americans throw away more than 25 percent of the food they prepare, amounting to about 96 billion pounds of food waste each year! These food scraps can easily be converted into valuable nutrients for the soil.
Compost piles break down food scraps (like vegetable peels, bread crusts, and eggshells) into super-rich, super-usable fertilizer for your flower beds and garden. Find a suitable place in your yard to start your own compost pile. To get started you will need two types of ingredients:
Carbon (shredded newspapers, cardboard, and straw)
Nitrogen (lawn clippings, food scraps, and weeds)
Combine these two components together and before long you will have compost. If you are feeling lazy, you don't need to do anything else (but wait and wait). You will have usable compost by next year even if you never touch the pile again. If you'd like things to move along a little more quickly, you will need to turn the pile and add a few drops of water every few weeks.
For in depth info about starting and maintaining a compost pile, read Let It Rot: The Gardener's Guide to Composting by Stu Campbell or Compost: The Natural Way to Make Food for Your Garden by Kenneth Thompson. Online you can check out How to Compost or Florida's Online Composting Center.
Enclosed compost bins can help keep your pile neat and organized. The size compost bin that you need will be determined by your expectations and dedication to the project, as there are bins in all shapes and sizes. You can build your own with a couple of boards or a wire cage.
If you decide to purchase one, check out the Back Porch Compost Tumbler available through Planet Natural. It doesn't take up a lot of space, won't look unsightly in your yard, lets you roll the compost (rather than turn it with a shovel), and it can produce finished compost in four to six weeks.