April means Earth Day, so it’s time to get down and dirty, San Joaquin – and by that, we mean composting!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with composting, it is the natural process that turns organic material into a soil-like substance called compost. Extremely rich in nutrients, compost can be added to your garden to help your plants grow and thrive. Additional benefits of using compost include reducing the amount of garbage sent to the landfill, repurposing your food waste in a way that gives back to you, and cutting down on water-usage when gardening, as compost is excellent at retaining moisture.
According to the San Joaquin County Solid Waste Division, about 25% of your trash is compostable. So, what exactly should you be tossing in a compost pile?
“Plant material,” says Eric Firpo, who co-owns In Season Market and Nursery in Stockton with Julie Morehouse. “Leaves, old vegetables that you might be ripping out of your garden. Grass clippings are great, too.” And then, of course, there’s kitchen scraps, like eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, stale bread, and apple cores.
Once you start collecting all your compostable items, you’ll want to create a compost pile. While you may purchase or create a container for this pile, Eric also says that making your pile on the ground is perfectly fine. “You start piling in layers,” he explains. “First, a layer of green material, like vegetables, which serves as the nitrogen layer. Then, you add a layer of brown carbon, like dried leaves.”
Depending on how much work you want to put into your compost pile, you can grab a pitchfork and turn the pile every day, which would lead to compost in about three weeks. If you don’t fancy yourself a gardener, or simply don’t have the time, you can let it sit and have a compost pile in six months.
So, what do you do with your compost pile? If you have a garden, use the compost there. But even if you don’t, you can spread it around any trees or plants you have around your yard. Got a friend with a green thumb? They would probably love some of your compost. “It’s a great soil amendment,” says Eric. “Plants love compost. And it’s free!”
Surprising Things You Can Compost
-hair and nail clippings
-feathers and fur from pets
-wine, beer, and liquor
-latex balloons and gloves
-natural corks from wine bottles
-used paper napkins
To Learn More:
In Season Market and Nursery
215 E. Alpine Ave., Stockton