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Holidays:Making Compost From Leftovers

One thing holidays and special occasions have in common; food is plentiful. How much of the scraps and leftovers can become compost? Lets examine what if anything is different in the composter barrel for the holidays.

Starting with preparation of the salads. For a garden salad all the ingredients will be chopped into small pieces and any I can think of will be considered green material. Any of the varieties of lettuce, whether head type or leaf type go right in the counter top composting bin sitting in a handy convenient location right beside the kitchen sink where you wash the veggies. Speaking of veggies, the cucumber or broccoli or cauliflower or summer squash or carrot tops will be a perfect addition and rot down quickly. If it’s a Cesar salad with boiled eggs, or deviled eggs, the egg pieces in limited amount can go in as well as the egg shells. It helps decomposition of the shells to crush them into small bits, otherwise, their breakdown to the point of non recognition is extremely slow. Bread crumbs add to the variety. Garnishments such as bacon bits can be added in limited amounts if attention is given to mixing the contents of the wood composting bin which remains open or remember to turn/tumble the closed models of tumbler composter. To add larger amounts than normal of higher protein items or a bit of dairy found in some dressings you must remember to pay more attention to green to brown ratio and what happens if the balance gets a little off.

Breads, raw dough or baked will not be a problem. If they are covered in butter, because butter is a dairy product, you may have to limit somewhat how much is thrown in, real dairy products will go rancid and might attract pests. However with a large enough batch and careful attention to aeration and green to brown ratio small amounts of dairy food waste will turn into humus along with the rest of the compost. Pie crusts and pizza crusts are included here. A caution with the pizza is that meat does not break down as quickly and the fat content goes rancid causing a really bad odor, and attracts vermin and other pests such as dogs and cats wanting the meat. Cupcakes with frosting will also add to the mix. The sugar will make compost, however, the sugar will attract ants. If there is more icing than anything else in the kitchen counter compost just be prepared for the possibility of ants. Outdoors any vermin with a sweet tooth might be a problem such as one might encounter with garbage cans and dogs in search of a delicious treat. Stuffing, or dressing for the turkey, same scenario, the problem with these foods is they smell good to animals so one must work to disguise them or cover them up well with other compost material such as newspaper or cardboard or old potting soil, or sawdust, straw or leaves. All of which are considered high carbon or brown. Add meat scraps or bones or custard or cheese and other dairy items with the realization that each item composts slowy and requires "hot" compost for breaking down to occur. These do not compost well, especially when the weather is cool. Meanwhile as mentioned earlier the compost may smell more like a tasty treat to unwanted guests like raccoons or dogs.

Cranberry sauce anyone? The fresh berries will not create any difficulties. But again be aware of added sugar. Any fruit itself or the peels are great for compost. Also included with this are nuts and nutshells. The shells make better dry matter than the nuts themselves.

Coffee grounds and tea bags enrich the mix. And what about all that wrapping paper and boxes? The non slippery cardboard and non shiny paper can be a great source of carbon . Making balls of the paper will help make air pockets which allow microbes to flourish. Strips of the cardboard make good layers over the food scraps. The rolls from paper towels and toilet paper are added as browns. Paper and cardboard plates and cups are also brown. Just not the plastic utensils!

And that about wraps it up, pun intended. There is no reason to throw the holiday and special occasion waste into the garbage to fill up landfills. Almost all leftovers, scraps and wrappings can be put into the tumbler composter, composting barrels, wood composting bin, or other garden composting bin.

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