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Turning Waste Into Wonder

Composting is an eco-friendly activity that reduces waste in landfills and has major health benefits for gardens such as enriching the soil, helping to retain moisture, and suppressing plant diseases. By reducing the need for chemical fertilizers, composting increases the production of beneficial bacteria that break down organic matter into humus – a nutrient- filled material that can be used for future flower and vegetable gardens. Zach Heninger, Owner and Operator of Central Oregon’s Project GreenBin says that a perfect compost bin should have a 30:1 carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, and heat is essential.  “For small, home-scale composting, rely on the outdoor temperature, so with that, summer will be the best time to compost.” He says. “Composting programs have the opportunity to work with large-scale farms, such as how Project GreenBin works with Rainshadow Organics. Heat is generated in our compost piles due to their large size, which allows us to successfully compost year-round. If a resident is composting on a small scale, I recommend only composting uncooked fruits and vegetables, but, if they are a part of a specialty composting program, such as ours, go ahead and throw all food in the bin and it will be put to good organic use,” says Heninger.

Composting Tips

Materials. It’s important to have an even mixture of green/wet and brown/dry materials for the compost bin. The green/wet materials yield nitrogen and give moisture to your mix. Examples of green/wet materials are uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps, green leaves, grass clippings, coffee grounds and small weeds and certain flowers. Examples of brown/dry materials are dead leaves, twigs, shredded newspaper and dryer lint.

Mix and layer. For a good decomposition rate, it’s best to keep a 30:1 ratio of green/wet materials and brown/dry. Whenever you’ve thrown your fruit and veggie scraps or lawn clippings into the bin, cover it as soon as possible with dry materials, then repeat.  

Water. While your green materials will keep your materials moist, watering your compost from time to time is essential to ensure decomposition and to keep the pile’s temperature regulated. The amount of moisture in a compost bin should be likened to a wet sponge, not too wet or too dry, and always with enough room for air.

Turn. Turning the materials in a compost bin is one of the most important things for a healthy compost. Turning not only eliminates odor, it aerates the pile and gives it the oxygen that is necessary for rapid decompression. Because air and heat need to move through the materials, turning it at least once a week is recommended.