International Compost Awareness Week


Grow your garden! Save money!

By Debbie Bigelow, Master Gardener Volunteer Cornell Cooperative Extension Allegany County

Need a no-cost way to reduce your household expenses? Make compost!

By recycling your kitchen scraps and yard waste into a usable soil and landscape amendment you reduce the amount you have to pay to be rid of. In addition, keeping food scraps and other organic material out of the landfills reduces the amount of methane generated.

You don’t need a fancy tumbler or even a big yard in order to make compost. You can compost in a corner of your property where you can pile up the materials, or you can use a 5-gallon bucket (empty cat litter or large laundry detergent containers with lids are ideal). Simply layer kitchen scraps – egg shells, coffee grounds, chopped up vegetable and fruit peels, etc – with fallen leaves, grass clippings, and weeds you’ve pulled up. (No meat scraps, bones, fats or pet waste). A few branches laid in or broken up into small pieces or some wood chips in any state of decomposition will add loft and improve aeration, and introduces spores of friendly fungi that inhabit healthy soils. Every few inches of your layered materials, toss in a couple handfuls of soil from outside – not by roadsides, please – to inoculate your pile/container with the needed microbes. Add moisture if necessary – the pile should be moist but not dripping. It will need oxygen in order to “work”. You can turn the pile to aerate it – a garden fork or hay fork works, moving materials from deeper in the pile to the outside, and newer materials toward the inside to speed decomposition – or you can just let it sit, if you’re not in a hurry. Turning the pile, or agitating the materials in the bucket, introduces the oxygen that bacteria need for rapid consumption of the materials. Leaving it alone, provided there is adequate fluffiness for air movement, will result in a more fungal-dominant product, which is actually better for long-term soil building. Either way in a few months you get a useful soil amendment and you keep methane-producing materials out of our shrinking landfill space.

For additional help, in Allegany County contact your Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners at, or call (585)-268-7644 ext 14ext. For Master Gardener help or call (716) 699-2377 ext. 127.

Grow your retirement fund! Call Gildner and Associates for a free consult!

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