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  • Writer's pictureWendy De la Garza

Composting in your Backyard

Updated: Apr 17

The kids and I have started a second compost pile in the backyard! I recently took a free composting class given by the City of Tampa and received my second bin. We are trying to lesson the amount of trash going into the garbage cans every week since we've maxed out our recycling.

Our kitchen scraps sit in a bowl on the counter for 1 day without a smell or a fly. Coffee grounds, tea leaves, egg shells, apple cores, dryer lint, banana peels, grapefruit and strawberry leaves are our top composted items. Other things you could add include grains, dead house plants or spent flowers. Never put meat, dairy products, fats, non degradable items like plastic or metal twist ties or items treated with chemicals, or diseased or invasive plants.

I avoid plastic egg cartons and opt for paper ones for example.

Tear off the labels and then toss the rest in with the kitchen scraps. It's not always known what kind of dyes are used or if there is a gloss finish that is hard to decompose in the label. Also, don't forget to take the stickers off your fruit and vegetable scraps! If it hasn't rained in a while I add a bit of water to my bowl.

You can compost leaves, pine needles and fallen twigs from your yard. But don't add your grass clippings. Allow those to stay on your lawn to "grass cycle". We made the mistake of adding lawn-mowed grass to our compost bin and we still have an excess of grass waiting to break down.

Cover kitchen scraps with the "brown" leaf litter, pine needles or cardboard pieces to keep the flies down. Perhaps you grabbed a worm or two in that handful! The more decomposers the better.

We use a broken kayak paddle to stir our compost. That's one less item in the landfill, but you may prefer a stirrer that's forked at the end, or a shovel. Notice that this particular compost bin has holes in it that will also help with aeration. You need oxygen for this process.

Have fun!! Enjoy the free Science lesson. We can't wait for the load of fresh soil.

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