Would you like to waste less, eat healthier food, and grow thriving plants in your home and landscape? With just a few small steps and habit changes, you can do this! Take advantage of these ideas for thinking outside the box.
According to a new report, “Food Waste in America”, by Recycle Track Systems
- Food takes up more space in US landfills than any other material.
- On average, each American can save one pound of food per day with a few simple steps.
- By simply putting our food to good use (consuming or composting) we will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 11%. In fact, it’s one of the easiest things we can do to fight climate change.
- Food-saving planning, shopping and storage strategies prevent most produce waste and save households an average of $1,600 each year. That’s enough to pay for more than an entire month’s worth of groceries for a family of four.
What can you do to reduce food waste in your own home? The organization “Stop Food Waste” suggests putting this cycle into action:
- Use the right food storage practices to reduce spoilage.
- Start 2022 with a “New Year’s Fridge Clean-Out”. Make a resolution to eat down your food before the next big shopping trip.
- Take advantage of “Save the Food’s” recipes for creative and tasty ways to make use of those odds and ends in your refrigerator or pantry.
- Check out these handy resources from “Stop Food Waste” like the “10-Minute Fridge Reality Check” and the “Food Shift Kitchen Guide”
- Save vegetable and fruit trimmings, cores, peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags and other compostable items.
- Start a compost bin in your backyard.
- Make backyard composting part of your food preparation routine.
- Place your grass clippings and leaves in your compost bin rather than curbside. Sure, yard trimmings collected curbside in The Woodlands are composted commercially, but why not save the good stuff for yourself? You’ll also reduce hauling and the green house gases that come with it.
Create Compost in Your Own Backyard
Let’s talk more about compost. Because, while we can all do better at reducing waste, there’s still going to be some great resources coming out of your kitchen. I’m looking at you carrot ends and egg shells. Don’t look a resource in the mouth, compost it! It’s easier than you think, and your plants will LOVE it. Backyard composting is the process of combining dry leaves, brown pine needles, green plant trimmings, and kitchen scraps to create a rich, slow-release fertilizer for your plants.
Adding compost to soil is one of the best ways to improve soil quality and texture. Here’s why. Compost contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – primary nutrients gardens and landscape plants need. It also includes traces of other essential elements like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. These nutrients are released slowly, as opposed to fast-release synthetic fertilizers, and far healthier for your plants. Compost improves drainage and helps the soil retain moisture – less irrigating for you. In short, you’ll have healthier plants with less work, water, and money.
Creating compost requires a few weeks to a year depending on how often you turn (or mix up) your pile. The more often you turn it, the faster the rate of decomposition. This is because the microbes that are the workhorses of decomposition need air to live. The more often the pile is turned, the more air is delivered to the microbes and the harder they work. I usually turn my pile about every two weeks. But, again, it’s up to you how often you choose to do it. I have some friends who are proud lazy composters and never turn their pile. They still create compost; it just takes longer.
How can you tell when your compost is finished? The material at the bottom of your compost bin turns a rich, dark brown color and smells and looks like fresh earth.
Now comes the most gratifying part – using your compost!
- Sprinkle ½”-1” over your backyard vegetable garden and around your planting beds.
- Add 1/4” to the surface of indoor and outdoor potted plants.
- Make your own potting soil with one of these recipes from University of Florida soil experts.
- Or even brew a potent “compost tea” for container plants by steeping homemade finished compost in a five-gallon bucket of water for 1-3 days. Strain the liquid and apply it to your plants. While research is ongoing, it is thought that compost tea not only provides nutrients but a host of microorganisms that boost plant health.
Resolve now to reduce food waste, give our climate a hand, and help your landscape thrive in 2022. Learn more about backyard composting with our free, hands-on, backyard composting class on Saturday, January 8 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at The Woodlands Township Parks, Recreation and Environmental Services campus, 8203 Millennium Forest. Experts from Montgomery County Master Gardeners Association will show you all you need to know. High quality C.E. Shepherd collapsible compost bins will be for sale for only $50 each. Drop in – no registration required. See you there!