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Home Composting Do's & Don'ts

Learn home composting do's and don'ts in this Howcast video featuring Alegre of Green and Greener.


Hi. Alegre from Ember Living here today to talk about composting. This is a subject I could talk literally hours about, but a brief overview. There are essentially three types of composting: with worms, without worms, and then inside your house, anaerobic composting which is a little more complicated. I'll get to that last. But basically what is composting? Composting is taking organic matter, meaning anything that is plant-based and allowing it to decompose to the point where it becomes essentially like soil. Soil actually has three parts to it. People often think that soil and dirt are the same thing, but they're slightly different. It also has minerals in it. Minerals help enrich the quality of the dirt, and they also help water pass through the dirt more easily. So it makes it drain better.

And then finally, it has organic matter in it, which is compost. And the best way to visualize what compost is, you know when you bring a houseplant home, and then you have it for a couple of years and the soil has all sunk down, and now there's no soil, and you think, "Where did that soil disappear to?" Well, it didn't disappear. It's just that the plant, while it was growing, used the organic matter, the compost that was in the soil in order to grow. It turned it into new leaves and stems and everything. And you need to replace that organic matter on a regular basis. Because if you think about it, think about a forest, and you think about the trees and the leaves falling down and falling onto the floor.

And then those leaves decompose into the soil, enriching the soil. If you do not have that sort of natural ecosystem, like a forest with constant decomposition and adding in of compost, then you will need to compost yourself and add it into your garden. So the first way to compost is literally just collecting the organic plant material and allowing it break down. You can do this in a container. You can just pile leaves and leave them in the corner. You can dig soil out and put compost into it. All of those things will allow the soil to become richer and allow that material to decompose. You can also decompose with worms. Decomposing with worms is especially good if you are growing your own fruits and vegetables, because worm compost is incredibly nutrient-rich. And composting with worm is actually really, really fun. Kids love composting with worms. So if you're interested in taking that extra step, it's not hard to do. There are little hurdles to get over, but I can teach you more about that. But it's really fun, and it's great for your plants. The third way of composting is what you can do inside your house, especially if you're, say, an apartment dweller. There are these small systems.

They're anaerobic systems, meaning they don't use oxygen to break the food down. But the nice thing about these systems is that you can literally decompose almost anything, including meat and cheese and bones. It's a different process, but know that these things are available, and they don't smell when used properly. And if you have a garden, it makes incredibly nutrient-rich compost and fertilizer for your plants. So that's a quick little overview on composting. It's great for your garden. It's a fun thing to do. And for more information about composting, I have an in-depth pamphlet that you can download from my website,

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