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LIVING> Public Works> Composting

Where can I get a composter?| How Do I Get Started? | How Do I Use Finished Compost? | What to place in your bin? | Contact

What is Composting?

Composting is Mother Nature's way of turning organic material into dirt. Micro-organisms feed on nutrients in waste materials breaking them down into humas - the rich, dark materials found in better quality soils.

Humas breaks down heavy soils, improves water retention capabilities in sandy soils, and adds much needed nutrients. The end result is healthy, vigorous plant growth.

Why Backyard Composting?

At our landfill, it is difficult to separate compost from other inorganic materials. Most waste arriving at the landfill site is mixed. Plastic, metals, solvents and other inorganic compounds and chemicals found in common household garbage can contaminate compost, rendering it useless, even harmful. Until economic methods and procedures can be developed to implement a mass composting program at the landfill, the best plan is to divert compostable materials before they reach the curbsides for pickup. These materials could easily be separated by homeowners and residents. Instead of putting them in the garbage, put them in the backyard composter!

Where can I get a composter?

Composters are readily available at most garden shops, hardware stores, and building supply stores. As with anything, prices vary according to product features, size and quality. Be sure to shop and compare.

Not all composters are created equal. Determine your needs and expectations, and then find a composter that will meet them. With a few materials and a little effort, you can build one yourself.

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How Do I Get Started?

Kitchen waste and other household materials can be gathered in a sealed plastic bag. Keep the pail in a handy location in the kitchen, and empty as required. When it comes to large volume of grass clippings or leaves, it is best to alternately layer the material with soil, finished compost, bonemeal, or any one of the many compost starter mixes available from garden stores.

The time it takes to produce finished compost will vary according to temperature, humidity, weather conditions, and compost contents. Generally, the lower the compost temperature, the longer the process takes. On average, finished compost is usually produced after two to six months. In an active composter during warmer seasons, temperatures can often exceed 50 degrees Celsius!

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How Do I Use Finished Compost?

Once the finished product is ready, simply sprinkle it around plants, trees, and shrubs, or work the dark, nutrient rich material into flower beds and gardens before planting. Here are some extra tips to speed up the composting process: - Cut larger pieces into smaller bits. - Keep the compost moist (not wet!) - Stir up the material in the composter with a fork or shovel from time to time.

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So you've found a composting bin and you're ready to start. The question is, what should you put in it?

Yes

  • Cardboard - Glue is probably organic
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cornstalks, cobs (Must be mixed with nitrogen rich materials)
  • Dryer Lint
  • Eggshells (Rinse and crush, source of calcium)
  • Grass Clippings (Best left on lawn, and not from lawns treated with pesticides)
  • Manure: Rabbit, gerbil, guinea pig, pig, sheep, horse, cow (Compost thoroughly)
  • Mushroom compost (May contain pesticides. Low in nutrients but good soil builder)
  • Newspaper (Shred for compost, shredded or flat for mulch. Coloured sheets now considered OK.)
  • Tree leaves (May be acidic)
  • Rhubarb leaves (Contains calcium oxalate but does not dissolve readily in moist conditions of composting)
  • Pine cones (Decompose slowly and are acidic)
  • Sawdust, wood shavings (High in carbon and will use up some of the nitrogen in the compost.)
  • Sunflower hulls
  • Weeds (Only if green and seeds have not matured)
  • Wood ashes (An excellent source of potassium. Best sprinkled directly into garden)

No

  • Grease
  • Cooked food scraps (Low in nutrients, attracts animals, slows composting process)
  • Barbecue ashes/coals
  • Dishwater (Most dishwashing soaps contain perfumes, grease, sodium)
  • Fish scraps (Can attract animals)
  • Kitty litter (Likely to contain disease organisms)
  • Dog and cat feces (May contain disease organisms)

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Contact

Please direct your inquiries to the Municipal Landfill at (250) 992-3817 or the Recycling Depot at (250) 992-2426.

The Transfer Station and recycling drop-off bins are open 24 hours daily at the Recycling Depot/Landfill site on Carson Pit Rd.

There are also recycling stations next to West Park Mal, the Moffat Bridge Loop at the Sani-station and at the Maple Park Shopping Centre.

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