Did you know that composting can transform your trash into new life? And that new life, in the form of microbes, fungi, earthworms, and more, provides the foundation for much of all other healthy life on Earth.
Composting is a great way to create healthy soil to support our people and our planet. Healthy soil is also a magical carbon sink that absorbs carbon from our atmosphere and helps cool the planet. While dead dirt has few living organisms, a teaspoon of healthy soil has more living organisms in it than the entire population of humans on Planet Earth!(1)
We need the world to compost!
Don’t think you can compost? We’ve got a whole set of resources on Everything To Know About Composting At Home, including more You Can Make Dirt interviews. All of this information about composting at home will hopefully prove that just about anyone can make space and find a system to turn their food scraps into nutrient-rich compost to enrich our soil, feed our food cycle, and limit the food waste that ends up in landfills.
This series highlights families in various circumstances who have all found a way that composting works for their lifestyle. Hopefully, you can be inspired to give it a go and help our planet stay a little healthier.
I’m really excited to bring back Landen of Measure and Whisk. Many years ago, I connected with Landen, and we’ve been following along with each other’s adventures in more sustainable and eco-friendly living ever since then. A while back, Landen shared about how she maintains a minimalist approach to family life with a new baby in the house. Since then, she’s had TWO more babies – identical twins!! You definitely need to check out her Instagram because all three of her boys are adorable (and the twins look so much like her older son they are practically identical triplets).
Today, Landen is sharing about how she composts at home with her family. It’s so interesting and inspiring to see families compost in their homes in so many different ways. I’ll let Landen take it from here and encourage each of you to try composting at home!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, your family, etc.. the Landen 101?
My name is Landen, and I live in the Salt City City, Utah area with my husband and our three boys (a three year-old, and nine month-old identical twins). I am a pioneer type and love hang drying my clothes, gardening, sewing, reading and knitting (basically I have the hobbies of an old lady as a 30 year-old). I am a stay at home mom, and I love it. Being a mom is my greatest joy (and challenge). I love being able to feed my family healthy, delicious and local food, teach my kids about working hard, and patience while we wait for all those goodies to grow for months.
Tell us a little bit about why you decided to starting composting?
I really didn’t like tossing so much food in the garbage, partially because it smells and because it seemed like such a waste. Composting seemed like a great way to dispose of carrot tops and potato peels without adding to the landfill. Also, it is the coolest way to learn about the earth! The earth has a perfect recycling system where everything gets used, the worms have something to eat, and you get gorgeous dirt that you can use out of the deal.
What method of composting do you use?
I dump everything in a pile (we did one in a shaded garden box, and the other in a pile off to the side of the yard under a tall tree). We add vegetable and fruit scraps, dead plants, weeds, grass clippings and some dirt. We turn it every two weeks or as often as we think about it, and voila! Soil. Basically I think you should do it wherever you have space. I would do it fairly far away from your house, if you can, just in case you have any unwanted visitors. Or, get yourself a compost bin (or this fancier version).
If you had any methods that didn’t work for you, can you share what happened and why it wasn’t a good fit for you?
We have to be pretty careful about what we put in the compost pile under the tree, because it is close to an irrigation ditch that is uncovered and we have had some muskrats and mice. Ew! We avoid smelly fruit and bury stuff in the pile most of the time, and that seems to help.
How do you store the scraps until they are taken to your compost pile?
I am a ‘use what you have’ kind of person, so we just use a large plastic Tupperware bucket that has a lid. We take it out every few days or if it gets stinky. Then, I wash the container out with the hose and reuse. I wash it in the dishwasher once every week or two as well.
Do you have any special tools, containers, or products that help make composting easier or more accessible for you?
Do you have any other supplies, like extra cardboard or brown materials, for example, that you store until you need to add them to your compost pile?
I do occasionally add paper, most often ripped up egg cartons, and I often add shredded up old papers (more secure disposal than a dumpster AND the worms love it!) to the pile. I keep the shredded paper by the back door in a large brown paper bag, then add them as needed. They can be a little messy, so just bury them in the pile and toss it a few days later, preferably after they get wet.
How does your family feel about composting?
My husband wasn’t super excited when I first told him I was going to do it, but at the first sight of the rich, dark soil that it was turning into, he was ALL IN! He is more obsessed with composting than I am now.
Have you experienced any benefits from composting, especially ones that might have surprised you?
Composting makes me feel so good, like I am really giving back to the earth. That sounds sort of corny, but considering how much produce I have gotten from our garden, I can’t keep taking and taking. At some point, I have to be willing to give back, and this feels like a lovely way to say thank you. Also, compost makes your vegetables taste better! More nutrients in the soil equals more flavor from your garden.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers about your composting practices, especially to help beginners gain confidence that they too can compost?
JUST START! It doesn’t have to be hard, just do it, and before you know it, you will have amazing dirt to add to the garden. You don’t have to be an expert to make it work (trust me, I am NOT and we have gorgeous post-composting dirt in the backyard to add to our garden). Sometimes I was worried I was ruining it, because I wasn’t adding exactly 30% vegetable scraps to 50% paper, etc, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Just use what you have in your garden, turn it regularly and it should give you a beautiful product, even as a beginner!
Where else can we find you and learn more about what you’re up to?
(1) According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.