Final Tips on Composting

This week we finish our series on composting by highlighting some tips and a few great sources of compost information.

First, let’s talk about slugs. The Guardian newspaper in the UK, a country famous for its gardens and gardeners, advises that “Slugs are an important part of the composting process – they eat through your organic remains and help it become compost. And the other advantage is that if the slugs are in your compost bin, they’re not on your plants.”

In a previous composting column, we reviewed the ingredients (greens and browns) that are safe to add. Here are a few more: cardboard egg cartons, leftover ash from log fires, human and pet hair, toilet roll tubes and bedding from hamsters, gerbils and other pets. Pumpkins can be composted, too, just remember to remove the seeds so you won’t get new plants sprouting in your pile. The Guardian notes, “Stay away from barbecue briquette ash, though, as this contains nasty chemicals. The jury is still out on cat and dog poo.”

Now, what about those labels on fresh produce? Composting enthusiasts will be relieved to learn that biodegradable fruit labels are starting to hit the markets. According to Earth911.com, two promising products are compostable labels that break down in 22 weeks and fruit labels that dissolve into an organic cleansing wash that helps remove wax, pesticides, dirt and bacteria.

As with any topic, there are vast amounts of instructions and advice about composting on the internet. Three of the best resources are Lincoln County Recycling Center (LCRC), University of Maine’s Extension Service, and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). LCRC collects, processes, and sells food compost. Their goals are to keep food scraps out of landfills and to generate revenue by selling compost. The staff is very friendly and eager to share their knowledge. The Extension Service website (umaine.edu/gardening/home-gardening/composting/) has videos and bulletins on composting basics. Call the Knox-Lincoln Extension office in Waldoboro weekdays 8-4:30 at 800-244-2104 if you need advice specific to your situation. MOFGA is another great resource (www.mofga.org).

Better yet, we can reduce our food waste in the first place. Earth911.com advises us to reduce the amount of fat on the meat we purchase by buying leaner cuts and use our freezers to freeze excess fruit and vegetables before they go bad (you can make smoothies with them). Please do consider putting your food scraps in a composting bin. Even a small one will reduce your household garbage significantly and will contribute toward the common good of reducing the overall amount of waste entering landfills.

By Linda Shaffer, Member of the Keep Pemaquid Peninsula Beautiful Steering Committee

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