Senior-Friendly Tips for Composting

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Updated 7/17/17 3:06 pm | Many of our Alert1 members are active gardeners that spend most of their time in the yard. This low impact task is a senior safe activity that helps both you and the environment. For even more protection, gardeners choose to wear our fall detection medical alert while out in the yard.  

 

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A new trend that gardeners are beginning to follow is composting. Composting can lead to a very fruitful union for you and your home. Composting can amount to a 20-30% reduction in the amount of waste you make.

Try composting now. In fall, those pesky raked leaves can go to good use in the composter. Your springtime garden will thank you for the nutrient rich soil.

How Do I Get Started?

shovel in dirt

Getting started is easier than you think. All you need is food scraps, paper, worms, and a designated composting area.

Good compost is typically a combination of kitchen and garden “waste”. When these components are mixed together, as well as kept moist and aerated, they evolve into active organic matter.

After you start your compost bin, you can expect the nutrient rich soil to be ready in a period of weeks or months. 

You can tell it’s ready because the compost will contain few-to-no scraps of food. It will be a dark, crumbly soil amendment that is full of beneficial fungi, bacteria, and earthworms. These living beings release enzymes and acids as they multiply, further enhancing the soil.

What Ingredients Are Needed?

older woman with flowers

Very few ingredients are necessary. Basic composting is done with food scraps, paper products, and composting worms. 

Less familiarly known as vermicomposting, your composting operation begins with the worms. These small organic recyclers help condense the compost and preserve the organic nutrients.

Specifically look for red wiggler worms. They’re known to eat half their weight in food each day!

In order to calculate how many red wigglers you need for your compost colony, use the following equation:

  • 1lb of worms to every 3.5lbs of food.

Composting in a warm environment will encourages the worms to eat more. Aim for a composting bin temperature of 59-77 °F. In addition to the worms, you also want your composting exposed to:

  • Damp air and water. Air and water are important because you want to keep your compost pile somewhat moist while allowing it to breathe.
  • Carbon and Nitrogen. Use brown materials, such as leaves and shredded newspaper for carbon. Throw in green kitchen waste like banana peels and lettuce for nitrogen. Use 25-30 times more brown products than green. 

Can Composting Be Compact?

greenhouse inside

Yes it can. Adapt your composting bin to your space, making it as compact as you need. Even if you only have room for composting on your balcony, there will be a bin size for you.

However, the crucial part to the success of your organic venture is the type of compost bin, no matter what size. For successful compact composting try:

  • Compost Digesters. These composting bins resemble trash cans, and enable you to easily compost kitchen waste. 
  • Compost Tumblers. Resembling a BBQ, compost tumblers rotate with little effort on your part to effective mix and aerate the compost. 
  • Making your own. If you have the DIY know-how, consider making your own composting bin to customize to the space you have. 

Building Your Worm Bin

worms on composting bin

To begin the magic that is composting you will want to:

  • Fill the bin 2/3 of the way with the dampened newspaper (preferably shredded).
  • Add some plant matter such as topsoil and dry leaves.
  • Transfer the worms to their new home.
  • Throw in some water and place the cover on the bin. 

Your composting process is on its way! For maintenance, water your compost to keep it moist but not mushy. Provide aeration by turning your compost pile every once in a while.

Now I know you’re thinking you can compost just any old table scraps or food leftovers. That’s actually bad practice in composting circles.

Your worms are strictly vegetarian—any added animal remnants will hinder the compost process and result in a very smelly bin.  

Repurpose Your Waste

Composting is a simple way to transform what was once garbage into a renewable resource. The fertilizer you create via composting will help your plants flourish and grow like never before.

The finished product is dark brown in color, with a spongy consistency. You’ll usually find this nutrient rich soil towards the bottom of the compost bin.

As the weeks pass, composting will become second nature. With your medical alert by your side, you’re well on your way to a sustainable livelihood.

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