About 30 per cent of the residential garbage that goes to landfills is made up of kitchen and yard waste. Why not try composting your trash? You will reduce the amount of garbage you put out on the curb, and provide your backyard with rich, natural fertilizer - at no cost!
You can put a lot of your refuse to work by making a simple compost heap - what you might call a "garbage potpourri" - in your backyard. It's a great way to make the most of organic waste like grass clippings, weeds, and nongreasy meal scraps. Think of all the leftovers - bread crusts, tea bags, coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable peelings - that could be put to good use for wildlife!
A compost heap makes great fertilizer for trees, gardens, and anything that grows. You'll do your backyard a big favour by allowing the soil to recycle valuable nutrients.
The following design for a chicken wire composter is simple and effective. There are many other types of composters as well. You can buy commercial composters at garden centres or hardware stores. Your municipality may even offer them at a reduced price.
• Find a shady, protected area to construct a chicken wire enclosure. It should be big enough to hold a pile about 1 m high x 1.5 m in diameter. Chicken wire is sold in widths of 3 ft (just under 1 m). You'll need a piece 4.5 to 5 m (14 to 16 ft) in length.
• Join the ends of the chicken wire to make a cylinder.
• Start your compost heap inside the chicken wire cylinder with a base of branches for ventilation.
• Next, add a 7 cm layer of grass clippings, leaves, weeds, and food scraps (no meat or bones).
• Cover that layer with 2 cm of dry manure or soil. You might also add 2 cm of lime to speed up the decaying process.
• Repeat this series of layers until your pile is just over 1 m deep.
• Turn the pile with a pitchfork about once a month and keep it moist during dry spells. The compost should feel like a damp - but not soggy - sponge. You'll notice that it sinks as it decomposes.
• You can compost year-round. The process will slow down a bit during the winter.
• Within about nine months, your compost heap will be ready to till into the backyard soil.