Give thanks for the piles of potato and apple peelings, egg shells, onion skins, coffee grounds and tea bags left over after a home-cooked holiday meal and create your own nutritious backyard compost in just a few easy steps.
Compost offers an abundance of benefits to the home landscape, garden and container plants through:
- Improved soil texture and aeration
- Improved drainage and nutrient availability in clay soil
- Water loss prevention and nutrient leaching in sandy soil
- Less fertilizer required since compost helps soil hold moisture
Food is the largest single source of waste in the U.S., taking up 20% of our landfill space. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 6% of our food waste gets composted.
Good news, it’s easy to do something about this problem. Start this season by composting your holiday meal scraps. Here’s how:
- Start by considering how you can reduce your food waste at home. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has some easy strategies to follow.
- Then, start composting!
Follow these simple guidelines
What to compost
- Egg shells
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags and leaves
- Raw vegetable scraps/peelings
- Raw vegetable cores
- Fresh fruit peelings/rinds
What NOT to compost
- Dairy Products
- Cooking Oil
Animal by-products are not appropriate for home composting systems. As they decompose their odors may attract wildlife scavengers. These items also require a lot more time to break down into components that are useful to plants.
Where to store your scraps
Most folks elect to save their compostable scraps in a bucket with a lid or a freezer quality zipper lock bag until they have enough to warrant a trip out to compost bin. Keeping the scraps sealed prevents any unpleasant odors.
How to compost
There are many ways to compost: bins, piles, barrels, enclosed, exposed and more. Whatever your preference, a good starting point is to select an area for your compost that receives partial shade to keep from drying out too fast and good drainage to keep from being too wet. Compost needs a mix of organic material, microorganisms, air, water and nitrogen for decomposition to occur. The good news is that you have all these elements at home. A good mix of kitchen scraps, dry leaves and garden clippings is a great place to begin. For more information on how to manage your compost throughout the year to produce the best material for your lawn and garden, check out this resource from The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services.
Setting up a home composting system is simple and easy. The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services Department offers home composting classes on the first Saturday of each month from November through March. Classes are free!
High quality C. E. Shepherd compost bins are available for purchase at each class. Our classes are taught in our outdoor composting classroom located at 8203 Millennium Forest, The Woodlands, TX 77381. Class is from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. with optional hands-on opportunities immediately following the presentation. Join us to learn more about turning kitchen scraps into compost and be sure to check out our website for more information.