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Making use of all your home’s waste

The idea of home composting is becoming a lot more appealing.

The idea of home composting is becoming a lot more appealing. After all, it’s the organic stuff that stinks, and taking care of most of it by composting is one great way to reduce the stinky factor.

There are many different ways to reduce the garbage you produce, and home composting is only one of them. To start, there are a ton of websites devoted to the fine art of composting, but the bottom line is to layer green nitrogen-rich waste (fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, teabags, grass clippings but NO meat, dairy or other greasy food items) with “brown” items that are rich in carbon (fall leaves, shredded newspaper, spent plants, pine needles, wood chips, egg shells or corncobs). Use at least twice to four times as much “brown” as “green,” and constantly adjust to get the mix just right. Finished compost should be damp, crumbly and look like soil. See the very useful Composters Council of Canada website (compost.org) for further information.

If you decide to compost, here’s a few hints to get back into the swing of it.

• If you’ve got a small yard, consider a space-saving rotating composter, with a 26-inch diameter, which holds six cubic feet of compost and collects compost “tea” for watering. No need to pitchfork this mess around — just rotate the drum. Lee Valley Tools carries this composter for $185. See www.leevalley.com

• A cheaper alternative is to use a garbage can with a firm lid. Poke holes in it to help with aeration, and roll it on the ground whenever it needs mixing. No fuss, no muss.

• If you live in a condo or apartment, consider vermiculture, or composting with worms. No it’s not as disgusting as it sounds. I tried it, and you can actually become attached to the wee wigglers. See www.cityfarmer.org for more information

• If you can’t use the compost yourself, in a garden or in potted houseplants, put it in bags and take it to the local market, and try bartering it for produce. Or give it away to gardeners in your neighbourhood. They’ll love you forever.

– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design; sputz@arrestingdesign.com.

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