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Senior-Friendly Tips for Composting

Updated 7/17/15 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.  

A new trend that people are beginning to follow is composting. Composting can lead to a very fruitful union for you and your home. Any time is a good time for you to start composting-a medical alert system. It amounts to a 20-30% reduction in the amount of waste you make. Try composting now and 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.

Compost is a key ingredient in organic farming. 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. Adding worms to the process accelerates the process. Composting in a warm environment also encourages the worms to eat more (59-77 °F). 

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. It is 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?

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.

You need damp air, water, carbon, and nitrogen to properly compost. Air and water are important because you want to keep your compost pile somewhat moist while allowing it to breathe.  The nitrogen ingredient comes from green kitchen waste like banana peels and lettuce.  Carbon comes from brown materials like leaves, shredded newspaper and bread.

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Can Composting be Compact?

Crucial to the success of your organic venture is your compost bin. Many amateur gardeners find success using “compost digesters” or “compost tumblers”. There is the option to use any sturdy container you have on hand. Be sure the container allows for aeration. You can always drill evenly spaced holes through the lid of your DIY composter to make it work.

Depending on where you live you may be limited by space.  If you live in the suburbs you might have more space to compost and you can use a big bin. If you live in the city you may only have a small balcony or corner of your kitchen to compost.  Just find the right size bin to meet your needs, your compost pile doesn’t need to be big in order to work.  

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Building Your Worm Bin

To begin the magic that is composting, fill the bin 2/3 of the way with the dampened newspaper (preferably shredded). Next you want to add some of plant matter such as topsoil and dry leaves. After that’s complete you can transfer the worms to their new home. And voila! The composting is well under way.

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.  

Once you are ready to start composting, be sure to add about 25-30 times more brown products than green, add some moisture and cover.  Your composting process is on its way!  Make sure to water your compost to keep it moist but not mushy and be sure to give it air by turning your compost pile every once in a while.

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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. Common uses for this soil vegetable or herb gardens. As the weeks pass, composting will become second nature. You’re well on your way to a sustainable livelihood.