Environment 4 May 2020
Composting is a simple practice that enhances the value of organic waste materials from the kitchen and garden by returning them to the soil in the form of a natural and effective fertilizer: compost.
All plant residues have their place! Yard waste, dead leaves, as well as a variety of food waste (fruit and vegetable peelings, nut shells, coffee grounds) can be incorporated into your home compost bin.
Certain leftovers such as pasta, bread, cereals and legumes can also be incorporated if they contain less than 5% sauce or fats. However, do not include food waste from animal sources (meat, dairy products) or high-fat foods, as these may attract vermin, develop pathogens and slow down the decomposition of materials.
Add dry matter (carbon-rich) to your compost bin, alternating with wet matter (nitrogen-rich) for a varied supply of organic matter. Avoid all prohibited materials.
Aerate your compost every 10 days to accelerate the decomposition process by adding oxygen. Practice moisture control - healthy compost is as moist as a damp sponge.
With these rules in mind, you're definitely on your way to success!
Add to your annual routine the complete turning of your compost in the spring. For dry materials that are available year-round, plan ahead by keeping a reserve of dead leaves in the fall.
Compost is ready when it looks and smells like soil. A first layer of compost should be available within 6 to 12 months and can be used to enrich your garden, flower beds, trees, lawn and even indoor plants.
When making your choice, make sure your composter has enough capacity. For example, a two-person household would require a composter with a 300-litre capacity.
For ground composters, make sure the composter is not too high up and has a wide enough base to make it easy enough to aerate your compost. Also make sure there are openings on the sides for sufficient aeration, a lid to prevent excess moisture and no bottom for the introduction of microorganisms. In an agricultural setting, it is also possible to compost in a heap simply by covering it with a tarp.
The preferred location for a compost bin is a semi-shaded area that is easily accessible all year round. Prepare the bottom so the soil is loose and add a layer of dry matter (e.g. dead leaves) for a perfectly drained floor. Then place your compost bin on top and that's it!
Composting is a very effective way to reduce the amount of household waste sent to landfill.
On its own, composting at home can reduce the amount of waste in our garbage cans by 48%. Through estimates using current composting practices, a reduction of 2,400,000 kilograms of waste per year would be possible if all households in the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent were to start composting.
This practice reduces the environmental impacts related to the transportation and treatment of waste while also preventing soil contamination and greenhouse gas emissions. Let’s take a landfill site as an example. The rainwater that flows between waste products is loaded with organic and chemical contaminants. The contaminated water must be treated ($) before it is released into the environment. A mixture of gases is released from decomposing organic matter without oxygen, mainly methane, which is 23 times more polluting than carbon dioxide.
Home composting generates savings for you and your municipality by reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. Also, the provincial government demands an environmental levy for each metric ton of waste sent for disposal.
A final benefit to you: adding compost to your yard improves soil texture, which promotes rainwater drainage, soil aeration and plant growth.
Home Composting Guide; Choosing the right compost bin; Home Composting Reminders. All publications are available in French and English on the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent website.
To go even further, you can consult the guide entitled Le compostage facilité (in French only).
© MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent