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May 28th, 2021
Did you know that more than 30% of the waste Americans throw away could actually be composted instead? Composting your own food and compostable household waste is a fantastic way to keep these materials out of landfills, where they take up space and release greenhouse gases, while creating a healthy, rich supplement for your garden and landscaping.
If you want to start composting but aren't sure where to begin, Danielle Parks, Sustainability Coordinator at Sustaining Way, breaks down what you need to know below. Thanks, Danielle!
The three basic ingredients of healthy compost are:
Nitrogen (N): plant development
Found in chlorophyll, nucleic acids and amino acids; component of protein and enzymes
Phosphorus (P): root development
An essential component of DNA, RNA, and phospholipids, which play critical roles in cell membranes; also plays a major role in the energy system (ATP) of plants
Potassium (K): resistance to disease
Plays a major role in the metabolism of the plant, and is involved in photosynthesis, drought tolerance, improved winter hardiness and protein synthesis
If soil is low in nitrogen
Action: plant a nitrogen-fixing crop, such as a legume (e.g. beans, peanuts, peas, white clover)
Note: if planting an edible crop (e.g. peanuts) consider green mulching after harvesting. This involves placing the crop on the ground and letting it decompose. No more work required.
If soil is low in phosphorus
Action: use animal manures (e.g. chicken, pig, horse)
Note: bury it in the ground and wait at least 120 days before planting in the area. Avoid planting vegetables planned to be eaten raw in areas where pig manure is placed.
If soil is low in potassium
Action: make a fertilizer or compost tea from banana, leafy greens, onions, potato, sweet potato.
Sustaining Way, a 501(c)3 formed in January 2012, is an interfaith non-profit that uses education, collaboration and advocacy to create sustainable, caring and equitable communities for current and future generations. Sustaining Way uses a unique community-based approach to sustainability through its demonstration site Annie’s House, just off the Swamp Rabbit Trail in the historic Nicholtown community of Greenville, SC.
For their work to cultivate a thriving, sustainable, and equitable environment in Greenville’s Nicholtown and surrounding communities, Sustaining Way is the recipient of the 2021 Environmental Equity and Justice Award.