Food Scrap Management
Composting in your back yard... it's easy, saves you money, and produces nutrients for your garden!
Did you know that organic matter (such as food scraps and leaf and brush debris) makes up about 28% of household waste? When this material decomposes in landfills, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Preventing organic materials from entering the landfill not only saves limited landfill space, it also reduces the emissions of methane while enabling us to recapture the nutrient value of the material.
What can I do with my food scraps? There are options.
There is not one right way to manage your food scraps at home, or even at your business, for that matter. Consider which answer best describes your situation, then explore the matching options:
A. Composting At Home or On-Site
Compost in the backyard or on-site at your workplace/school to make a soil amendment for your garden.
B. Feeding the Animals
Spent brewery grain and whey are often incorporated into animal diets. Some food scraps are also fed to chickens. NOTE: Agency of Agriculture regulations do not permit pigs to be fed food scraps that contain meat or that have come into contact with any meat (including fish) unless the pigs are for your own family's consumption. Visit the Agency of Agriculture's website for more information: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/agriculture/files/documents/Feeding%20Food%20Scraps%20to%20Pigs%20January%202018.pdf
C. Sending Food Scraps to "The Pros"
a. Drive it yourself to a drop-off location
b. Pay for food scrap hauling service to come pick-up
COMPOST is simply organic material that has rotted to the point where plants can use the nutrients. Home composting is a way to manage this process so that it is faster and more convenient.
Composting can be done with almost no effort. Composting is just collecting kitchen scraps and leaves and putting them in a pile or bin. Just add equal amounts of kitchen waste and leaves from the autumn leaf drop and... compost happens!
- It improves the structure and fertility of garden soil, adds nutrients and helps to prevent plant diseases. Returns nutrients to the soil such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, iron and boron.
- When added to the soil compost helps promote root development, enhances retention of water and nutrients, and makes the soil easier to cultivate.
- When used on the surface of the soil as mulch, compost reduces rainfall run-off, decreases water evaporation from the soil, and helps to control weeds.
- About 40% of the waste we each create is food and yard waste. Composting can also help reduce the amount of materials you send to the landfill and help cut your trash bill down to size. Compost is also a great addition to the soil.
- Reduces the smell in your garbage bags. With all that wet stuff gone, your trash is lighter and less putrid.
- Reduce global warming. Food decomposing in the landfill produces methane, a supercharged greenhouse gas; in your backyard compost bin it doesn't.
- Saves space for longer-lived landfills.
Compost is simple to make, requiring just two things: a container of some sort to hold the ingredients and the compost ingredients themselves.
- Vegetable peels.
- Yard clippings.
- Egg shells.
- Small sticks…
- The list of items you can add to a compost pile is a long one!
- Compost ingredients can be separated into two categories-greens and browns.
- "Green" ingredients provide nitrogen.
- Brown" ingredients provide carbon.
- Mixed together they make heat, which makes it all rot faster.
- Home Greens (nitrogen): Fruit and vegetable scraps; coffee grounds, filters; tea bags and loose tea; grass and shrubbery clippings; wet leaves.Some Browns (carbon): Dry leaves; small sticks (less than 1 in. in diameter); straw and hay; wood chips.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Composting bins are available for sale in many home and garden stores and online. There are also many designs for "make-your-own" composters. Check out the links sections of this page for more helpful advise for great home composting results.
Tips for Controlling Pesky Fruit Flies - Controlling these annoying little pests requires eliminating breeding areas and killing adult fruit flies.
- Remove food sources - Refrigerate or cover ripening fruit, especially bananas, peaches, and tomatoes. Remove any potatoes and onions that are starting to spoil and discard them.
- Contain kitchen scraps - Use a composting kitchen container with a fitted lid to collect sraps for composting. Empty and clean the container frequently.
- Tidy up hiding places - Mop up spills under the refrigerator. Keep the garbage disposal clean. Rinse trash bins.
- Rinse recyclables - Rinse discarded and recyclable bottles and cans, especially beer, soda and juice containers.
- Eliminate damp spots - Fruit flies require moisture to breed, so fix leaky faucets and drains.
- Rinse out any egg shells you have and allow them to dry for a few days. When they are dry they crush very easily. This will help them to break down quickly when added to the soil.
- Crushed eggshells improve drainage and the addition of the calcium is excellent for promoting plant growth and preventing blossom end rot in tomatoes and squash plants. You can put them in a Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.
- They are a good deterrent for slugs and snails. Scatter a generous barrier around seedlings to protect them.
- Coffee grounds can also be added directly to the soil. They act as a general fertilizer, adding organic matter, improving drainage, water retention and soil aeration. As they break down, they will continue to add nitrogen to the soil.
- Used coffee grounds will not affect the PH level of your soil unless used in very concentrated amounts. However; unused coffee grounds or leftover coffee is always such a wonderful pick-me-up for acid loving plants.
- Coffee grounds also work very well as a mulch around plants. This keeps earthworms very happy as they seem partial to a little caffeine!
- Adding banana skins is another excellent way to improve your garden soil. More, they can be added directly to the ground as long as they are cut up into very small pieces. These will break down faster and allow all the micro-organisms in the soil lots of surface area to work their magic.
- This will create plenty of organic matter resulting in a light, well drained soil which is full of earthworms. Once the banana skins have broken down they will add powerful nutrients; calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphates, potassium and sodium, all of which help plants to grow well and develop their fruit.
Leaf and Yard Debris - Leaf, yard, and clean wood debris are banned from disposal in solid waste and landfills as of July 1, 2016.
Composting Leaves in the Garden – Learn the Benefits of Leaf Compost
Composting leaves is a terrific way to recycle and create a nutrient rich garden soil amendment at the same time. The benefits of leaf compost are numerous. The compost increases the porosity of the soil, raises the fertility, diminishes the strain on landfills and creates a living “blanket” over your plants. Learning how to compost leaves just requires a little knowledge of the balance of nitrogen and carbon. The correct balance will ensure fast composting of leaves for spring time black gold.
Read this article by Bonnie Grant and more at Gardening Know How: Composting Leaves In Garden: Learn The Benefits of Leaf Compost.
- If you know of composters (from facilities, schools, businesses, community sites, etc.) that could use some technical assistance beyond what you provide, they can contact Compost Technical Services for free assistance (ANR/DEC funds this). Assistance includes everything from initial site planning and assessment to permitting support, custom management plans, and systems design. To learn more, contact James McSweeney at 802-224-6888 or james@