For someone who’s committed to living an eco-groovy lifestyle, someone with a blog called Healthy Green Kitchen, I don’t think I share enough “green stuff” on this blog. I love talking about my garden (it’s been a long winter since I’ve been able to do that, though) and my chickens, and I do try to include green tips for cooking along with my recipes on occasion…but I think I can do better.

That’s why today, and every Friday from now on, I am going to devote a weekly post to something that’s related to green living, and I really want you to join in the fun! I’d love it if you left comments about your own green living efforts, and/or if you shared your own eco-friendly blog content in the linky tool at the bottom of this post…

Composting 101

I’ve been composting for many years and really can’t imagine not doing it: it’s such an obvious way to keep “recyclable items” (kitchen and yard wastes) out of landfills. It’s also such an important element of organic gardening, since compost is one of the very best things you can add to achieve truly healthy soil…and healthy soil is a must for healthy plants.

When you make compost, you are basically putting things into a pile to rot. You can create a pile out of your kitchen scraps and yard waste pretty simply and eventually it will decompose without much effort on your part.

There are many compost bins on the market and these are great if you don’t have a lot of extra room, you like to keep things neat and orderly, and if you don’t particularly want to look at an “ugly pile”. Bins/containers can also ensure that the contents get turned properly and heated optimally for good breakdown, so you will likely end up with a finished usable product sooner than if you just build a pile and let it sit there.

If you have an out-of-sight spot, though, a pile is the simplest and cheapest way to get the job done. Here’s a basic recipe for starting a compost pile…

Basic "Recipe" for Making a Compost Pile

Ingredients:

*1-2 parts green (high in nitrogen)- this means grass clippings, green plant trimmings, and food scraps (all fruit and veggie scraps, grains, organic tea and coffee, and eggshells can be added; experts say not to add meat, bones, dairy products, eggs or oils )
*1 part brown (high in carbon)- this means leaves, straw, hay, wood shavings, newspaper, cardboard

Directions:

1. For adequate heating, it is best to make a pile that is 3 feet by 3 feet. Water should be added to keep the pile as moist as a "wrung out sponge". So keep it covered with a tarp if it's raining a lot and it's getting too wet, and water it with a hose when conditions are very dry.

2. When building your pile, you should layer the greens and browns and add water to help jump start their breakdown. Then keep an eye on the moisture level and turn the contents with a pitchfork every week or two to make sure it continues to decompose evenly. The more you turn the materials over and get things stirred up, the faster it will decompose.

3. If you don't have any land and/or you are looking for another way to recycle your food scraps, you can try using a worm bin. The original and best book on the subject of making compost with worms (vermiculture) is Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System by Mary Appelhof.

Related Links:
A comprehensive list of what you can and cannot add to compost
Compost Troubleshooting Tips
Mary Appelhof’s website: wormwoman.com

So there’s my entry for Eco-Friendly Friday…Composting 101. As I mentioned above, though, I want you to be a part of Eco-Friendly Friday, too. I want to know how you are living green! A lot of topics fit comfortably under the eco-friendly umbrella, so I’d love to hear about the following:

  • your organic gardening/small-scale farming efforts
  • your support for local farms/farmer’s markets
  • what you cook with your harvest/farmer’s market haul (includes recipes for canning and preserving)
  • cooking efforts that save you money, cut down on packaging and allow you to eat better
  • your composting and worm bin efforts
  • your experiences keeping chickens, goats, cows, etc.
  • your experiences with beekeeping

I also want to hear about:

  • your tips for recycling and reusing things around the house instead of throwing them away
  • projects you’ve done that have improved the energy efficiency of your home
  • green decor ideas
  • recommendations for environmentally friendly products you use
  • examples of how you’ve conserved energy and/or saved money by adopting a greener lifestyle

I hope the above list gives you some ideas and I also hope that this weekly event will grow with time. I promise to visit every link, and each week I will feature a few highlights from the previous week’s linked-up posts. I’ll keep the linky open until the end of the day tomorrow (Saturday).

Here are the linking up guidelines:

* Please add a link to this post somewhere in your blog post entry stating that it’s a part of this week’s Eco-Friendly Friday over at Healthy Green Kitchen.
* Make sure to link to your individual post, not to your home page.
* Make sure your post contains some element of “eco-friendliness”.
* Please only link to one blog post per blog.
* When you link, please share the subject of your post; your name and the name of your blog are optional. Sample entry: Composting 101 (Winnie @ Healthy Green Kitchen)