How to Compost Food

Overview

Composting food scraps lets you make good use of suitable kitchen waste that would otherwise end up in the trash can. Currently, each household deposits an estimated annual 474 pounds of food scraps into American landfills. In addition to waste reduction, composting lets you introduce a valuable organic soil amendment into your garden, which in turn offers your landscape plants the opportunity for enhanced nutrient uptake. Learning how to compost kitchen waste is a twofold process that introduces you to kitchen counter food scrap collecting and vermicomposting.

Kitchen Counter Scrap Collecting

Step 1

Purchase a compost pail. It needs to have a lid that fits tightly over the container. Opt for a small attractive looking container, so that you can keep it next to your sink or place it underneath for storage.

Step 2

Separate compostable food scraps. Save egg shells, vegetable and fruit scraps, pasta, grains, tea bags and coffee filters with grounds, cereals and bread items, expired spices and corn cobs. Chop bigger items on your cutting board with a knife to 1-inch bits and pieces. Place the chopped kitchen waste into your compost pail. Throw away meat, fish, dairy products, any kind of grease and other animal products.

Step 3

Reduce odor in your kitchen by placing a wet paper towel over the latest layer of scraps. This is a good idea for the hot summer months, when food decomposition may occur more quickly but you are not yet ready to take your scraps outside.

Vermicomposting

Step 1

Buy a worm bin, bedding and about a pound of red wriggler worms. Set up the bin in a shaded portion of your yard.

Step 2

Ready the bin for the worms. Moisten the bedding with a bit of water and place it into the bin. Evenly distribute the first load of kitchen food scraps into the bin, and mix it with the bedding. Introduce the worms into the worm bin and close the lid. Add new food scraps periodically.

Step 3

Remove finished castings and spent bedding from the worm bin every two months. Gently move the bedding and castings to one side of the worm bin, and place fresh bedding and kitchen waste on the other side. Let the worms migrate to the area with the fresh waste---give it about 10 minutes--and then scoop out the finished compost. Look for any stragglers and place them back into the worm bin.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost pail
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Wet paper towel
  • Worm bin
  • Bedding
  • One pound red worms
  • Scoop

References

  • HomeCompostingMadeEasy.com: Home Composting Made Easy reveals annual household food waste
  • Your.KingCounty.gov: Washington's King County Solid Waste Division explains compostable foods
  • Compost-Bin.com: Compost-Bin offers a testimonial on meat and bone composting

Who Can Help

  • OregonMetro.gov: Oregon Metro Regional Government details worm composting
  • Your.KingCounty.gov: King County explains compost harvesting
  • CityFarmer.org: City Farmer cautions against the use of worms other than red wrigglers
Keywords: Composting food scraps, Kitchen waste, Vermicomposting

About this Author

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.