How to Save Money By Composting Your Own Food Waste
Composting your food waste at home can help you save money in a few key ways. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to start composting and maximize your savings.
Why Composting Saves Money
Composting food scraps at home means those scraps don’t end up in the trash. This saves money because:
You pay less for trash collection. With less waste going to the landfill, you may be able to downsize your trash bin and reduce your bill.
You avoid buying commercial compost. Making your own nutrient-rich compost eliminates the need to purchase bagged compost from the store.
You reduce your spending on fertilizers. Compost contains nutrients plants need to thrive, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
You get free soil amendments. Homemade compost boosts soil health, so you spend less on things like peat moss and vermiculite.
How to Start Composting at Home
Starting a compost pile at home is relatively simple. Here are the key steps:
Choose a Compost Bin
You’ll need some type of enclosure to contain your compost. Options include:
Compost tumblers – Rotate easily to mix and aerate materials. Tend to be on the pricier side.
Wooden bins – Low-cost and blend into landscapes well. Can be built or purchased pre-made.
Wire bins – Allow for maximum air flow. Affordable and easy to assemble.
Trash cans – A very cheap option if you drill holes for aeration. Locking lids keep out pests.
Select a Site
Pick a dry, partially shaded spot near a water source and as far from your house as is convenient. Your compost pile should have contact with soil but be elevated if possible.
Gather Brown and Green Materials
Compost needs a balance of “greens” (nitrogen-rich materials) and “browns” (carbon-rich materials).
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Fresh grass clippings
- Coffee grounds and tea leaves
- Dry leaves and twigs
- Shredded newspaper
- Sawdust and wood chips
Maintain Proper Moisture
Your compost pile should have the moisture of a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, add water. If it’s soggy, add more browns.
Turn and Aerate the Pile
Give your compost a stir every few weeks to introduce oxygen. This speeds decomposition.
Composting Do’s and Don’ts
Follow these tips for safe, effective composting:
- Shred or chop large pieces
- Bury fruit and vegetable scraps under 10 inches of compost
- Layer greens and browns as you build the pile
- Use a ratio of 2-3 parts browns to 1 part greens
- Monitor temperature and moisture
- Compost meat, oils, bones, or dairy
- Let the pile dry out or get waterlogged
- Pile materials too high (over 5 feet)
- Site the compost pile on concrete or asphalt
Using Compost in Your Garden
Mature compost is dark, crumbly, and earthy-smelling. It’s packed with nutrients ready to feed plants! Here are some ways to use your finished compost:
Mix into garden beds – Till several inches of compost into soil before planting.
Top dress lawns – Spread 1/4-1/2 inch over grass to improve health.
Make potting mix – Combine compost with coconut coir or peat moss for containers.
Mulch trees and shrubs – Layer 2-3 inches around bases to retain moisture.
Boost seed starting mix – Add 20-30% compost to commercial seed starter mixes.
With a properly maintained compost pile, you’ll have a free source of “black gold” to enhance your entire garden!
Final Tips for Composting Success
Start small – a 3x3x3 foot pile is plenty at first.
Use the right ratio of greens and browns.
Give your compost a “bio-charge” by adding a bit of fertilizer or aged manure.
Use a compost turning tool to easily mix and aerate.
Don’t let the pile dry out completely or get soggy.
Be patient – quality compost can take 6 months or longer to finish.
Composting scraps takes some work up front, but soon saves money and provides fertilizer for free. Follow these guidelines to nourish your garden naturally and economically with home-grown compost.