Friday, December 20, 2019

Need some dirt on composting?

As we jump into the new decade, we would love to hear from all of you what you’d like to learn in 2020 about composting. 

Do you have a compost story to share? If so, fill out the survey above and we will contact you. Maybe your story will be spotlighted on the blog!

Happy New Years and be ready for a new decade of composting love!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Composting 2.0 Quiz!

Since most of you enjoyed our Composting 101 quiz last winter, we thought we would spice things up again to challenge you to the next level!

A handful of delicious compost.

Didn’t do so well? Maybe pick up one of these great composting books for the winter season.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Happy 10 Year Blogiversary!

Yes, that is a thing.

We’ve reached double digits, y’all! Ten years ago we embarked on a great composting journey together, picking up composting lovers along the way. Maybe you have only been reading for a few months or maybe you stuck around for the whole decade but we want to give a big shout out to you.


Without you reading, it would be just us amusing ourselves with bad composting puns. And that’s just biodegrading.

As a way to thank you, we are giving away I ❤ Compost bumper magnets! Just send me an email  before the end of the year (12/31/19) with your address and we will mail one off to you (Hamilton County, Ohio residents only- sorry).

To celebrate the last 10 years, I wanted to share our top ten posts of all time and how many views they have received. They are mostly from the first few years which makes sense since those posts have had more time to collect web traffic.

10. Zen and the Art of Balancing Compost, 2010: 2,396 views

9. Can You Compost Wine Corks?, 2011: 3,473 views

8. The Lowdown on Compost Tumblers, 2013: 7,045 views

6. When Composting is the (Fruit) Pits, 2012: 19,543 views

4. Can You Compost Paper Towels? 2017: 21,458 views

1. Can You Compost Bread? 2013: 65,163 views

Since the beginning of the blog, we have received 601,044 page views. WOW, that’s a lot of compost loving. Hopefully we can keep it up for another 10 years.

Keep on composting!

Was this the cheesiest clip art I could find in 30 seconds? Yes, yes it was.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Headless Horseman’s Guide to Backyard Composting

“His appetite for the marvelous, and his powers of digesting it, were equally extraordinary”
  -Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

To gather these composting tips, I traveled to the mist covered, rolling hills of 18th century Sleepy Hollow, New York. With the glow of a full moon visible through the newly bare tree branches and the cold breeze just hinting of the winter to come, I interviewed everyone’s favorite Headless Hessian to see what wisdom he could share about backyard composting. Here is what I learned.

  • Never Stop Collecting – whether it is food scraps for your compost pile or the heads of unsuspecting victims, persistence and consistency are key. Even in the winter, continue to add to your collection (e.g. compost pile) and your perseverance will pay off.
  • Mist is Your Friend – nothing makes creeping up on horseback behind Ichabod Crane easier than a nice cloaking mist. A full out rain would be too wet and a clear night would provide no cover at all. Likewise, your compost pile should be as wet as a wrung out sponge (link) for optimal composting.
  • Sunshine is Not Necessary – we imagine Sleepy Hollow as forever shrouded with gray cloud-covered skies but you could still manage a steaming compost pile with the right materials. Compost piles create their own heat through microbial activity and do not need the sun, or paranormal influence, to transform “waste” into a dark, crumbly soil amendment.

Luckily, I managed to escape my interview with the Headless Horseman with my head intact. Perhaps bonding over the shared passion of composting will make me and the Hessian forever friends.

If you love Halloween and composting as much as I do, check out past Halloween posts:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Harvesting a Compost Tumbler in Three Steps

In the last post, I explained the step-by-step process of harvesting compost from a standard, sit-on-the-ground compost bin. But what about composters who use tumblers? Yes, you’re special and deserve your own post.

Before we begin, this post covers harvesting compost from a tumbler. For other tumbler-related advice check out this post.

Step One: Stop adding food scraps for three weeks before harvest. This one is hard, guys. But unless you have a really fancy double-barrel unit or you are okay screening out the unfinished compost, you have to stop adding food scraps and let the compost “cook.” You could stash the scraps in the freezer during that time or invest in a backup compost bin.

Step Two: Keep turning the bin during those final few weeks of composting.

Step Three: Dig out your brown gold and enjoy.

You can screen the compost for an extra satisfying finished product. If after three weeks of “cooking” your compost is still not progressing, you may need to troubleshoot. 

  • Is it really dry? Add water. It should be as wet as a wrung out sponge.
  • Is it really wet? Add shredded leaves or newspaper. 
  • Is it still not breaking down? Add a few shovels of good garden soil to boost the microorganisms.

Any other tips to add? Please post them in the comments below.

Photo credit: Cara Harpole

Friday, September 27, 2019

Compost Harvest Time

This is my favorite time of year. Not only will I start wearing sweaters and boots soon, but the weather is perfect for being outside, camping, and harvesting my finished compost. So grab your pumpkin-spice latte, cable-knit sweaters, and a pitchfork and let’s harvest some black gold together.

Step One: Gear up
I always bring a few five gallon buckets (old kitty litter containers in my case), my pitchfork, my screener, and a little container for garbage (usually an old flower pot). You may also want a shovel.

Step Two: Remove all obstacles.
If you have a conventional backyard composter, pick the thing up and move it off your pile. This may be easier said than done. It usually involves me shimming my composter back and forth like we are slow dancing. Maybe we are.

Step Three: Put the half-baked compost into buckets
When you only have one bin, you often have recently added food scraps. Shovel or fork these items into your handy buckets. These can go back in your pile in the end.

Step Four: To screen or not to screen
This step is optional, but if you have not heard me gushing about compost screening before, I offer this post for your reading pleasure

Step Five: Use your finished compost
I fork my compost into a wheelbarrow and bring it to the parts of my yard that need it the most. My fall harvest generally acts as mulch in my beds. Here are some other ideas for how to use finished compost. 

If you don’t have a wheelbarrow, buckets work too. Here is a photo of my harvesting set-up last fall when my husband was using the wheelbarrow for a wall project. 

Step Six: Start a new compost pile
Now you can add some shredded leaves to all of your unfinished compostables to start the cycle all over again.

Fall is an ideal time for harvesting because before we know it we will be buried in leaves and need a place to stash them. 

Happy Harvesting!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Are you Guilty?

An Ohio State University study revealed that individuals who compost tend to waste more food. Creating our own compost, we don’t feel as guilty putting that entire mushy banana or bruised apple into the compost. So what to do?

On Sunday, September 8th from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., you can come learn all about preventing the waste of food while having fun eating, participating in a creative cooking demonstration, and following a passport journey to more food adventures at our zero waste event “For the Love of Food” at Washington Park.

This event is family friendly and is entirely free. Have questions about the event or want to volunteer? Check out our event page here.

Guest Blogger, Angela Rivera

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

When Your Leaf Stash Disappears

Often this time of year, us composters run out of the nice, dry brown leaves we had in plenty in the fall. We remember, with longing, those bags of brown leaves set out on the curb that didn’t quite fit into the leaf bins. If only we could go back in time…

If you have run out of leaves, don’t fret. We have other sources of “brown” or “carbon-rich” material that can substitute for leaves in a pinch. I will say that leaves are, hands down, the best carbon source for backyard composting, but below are good alternatives.

Alternative sources of carbon:
  • Dead plants in the yard
  • Shredded paper (shred to avoid matting)
  • Paper plates and napkins 
  • Egg cartons
  • Hay or straw
  • Untreated sawdust (use sparingly, very high in carbon)
  • Untreated wood chips (use sparingly)
  • Dryer lint (link)
  • Cardboard (torn into pieces)
  • Pine needles (brown)
  • Junk mail
  • Prunings from woody shrubbery (cut into small pieces)
  • Tea bags
  • Expired spices
  • Corn cobs (cut up into pieces)
  • Wood ash (use sparingly)

You still need to bury your food scraps even if it is under a bed of shredded pizza boxes. Happy composting, friends, and don’t worry, your yard will be buried in leaves before you know it.

Friday, July 19, 2019

How to Master the Art of Composting

While your body may not like the hot temperatures we are experiencing this month, your compost pile sure does! Summer is not only a great time for composting, but it is also a great time to LEARN about composting. If you’re a compost enthusiast looking to deepen your knowledge, join us at the Civic Garden Center for our Master Composter Certification program. 

This year, the class will meet Thursdays in August (1, 8, 15, 22) from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Through a combination of lectures, demonstrations, and field trips, attendees are trained to become composting ambassadors in their communities. 

When CityBeat heard we are the only organization to offer this type of training in the region, they stopped by to learn more and explore our outdoor composting classroom. Read their article here and click through the pictures for a lowdown on how composting works.

Ready to sign up? Follow these two easy steps: 
1) Register and learn more about the course on our website
2) Complete a simple application and pre-test that will be emailed to you once you register online.

Spots are filling up fast, don’t miss your chance to sign up! Contact Kylie Johnson at for more details.

Guest Blogger Kylie Johnson from the Civic Garden Center

Monday, July 1, 2019

Compost Bin Sale!

Need to update your composting supplies? 

Know a friend who wants to start composting? 

Need a good gift? 

On August 10th, 2019 Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District will host a Compost Bin Sale at St.Xavier High School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This is a great time to start that second (or third or fourth…) compost bin and maybe add some tools to make it easier. Here is what you can purchase:

Compost Bin $45
This 11 cubic feet bin is sold as one piece and is made from 100% recycled plastic. The bin includes a twist locking lid and has side ventilation slots.

Kitchen Collector $10
A 1.9 gallon plastic container to collect your food scraps to carry out to your compost bin. 

Aerator $10
Solid steel winged aerator is designed to open pockets of air within the compost pile.

Thermometer $10
Mercury free, bi-metal compost thermometer.

Mesh Base $10
The mesh base sits under your compost bin to deter unwanted animals from tunneling into your bin

All items will be sold on-site the day of the event, while supplies last. Pre-order HERE to guarantee your purchase.

Are you a Hamilton County, Ohio resident? Interested in a $10 off coupon for the compost bin? Attend one of our upcoming “Composting 101” Webinars for a basic composting refresher course and ask your composting questions! Webinars will last approximately 30 minutes. Webinars are July 9th, 2019 at noon or July 31st at 7 p.m., register here.

Have questions about the Compost Bin Sale? Contact Angela Rivera at

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Time to Turn: A Real Life Compost Story

Guest post from Brad Miller

Cooler temperatures this spring and a vacation resulted in me turning the compost pile later this spring than usual. When I finally got around to it, I experienced a little good and bad.

First: the bad news. As I started digging into the wet, dense center of the pile, a rotten egg, sulfur odor greeted my nostrils. Oops! What caused this problem? A portion of my pile went anaerobic because I had not turned my pile to get oxygen into it. Anaerobic composting happens without the presence of oxygen (think swamps). This type of composting is super slow and as my nostrils can attest- stinky.

But, all is not lost. An anaerobic compost pile will quickly switch to aerobic (air-loving) composting with a good amount of turning. I also incorporated some new dry leaves generously gifted to me by a coworker.

Second: the good news. As I turned the pile I encountered a healthy community of bugs and worms living in the composting material. In other good news, all the recent rains added plenty of moisture so I didn’t need to drag the hose down to the pile (of course, it is possible all of that rain contributed to the pile going anaerobic, but I’m an optimist).

Final lesson learned: next year, I will remember to turn my pile around the first week of May.

Brad Miller spreading compost near our office.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Compost Like an Egyptian: Harvesting Vermicompost

Did you know that you can channel the ancient Egyptians when you’re ready to harvest your vermicompost? It’s true! Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: On a sunny day, set your worm bin, a tarp, and a container for finished vermicompost outside. If the weather is bad, you can do this inside in a bright room.

Step 2: Using your hands, scoop out handfuls of vermicompost, sorting out any visible pieces of food as you go.

Step 3: Shape each handful of vermicompost into a pyramid—more surface area is better!

Step 4: Wait ten minutes. Your worms, like mummies, will migrate to the base of the pyramid, away from the light.

Step 5: Remove top and sides of pyramid and sort out any worms you find, returning them to the bin. The worm-free compost can be placed in your container for finished vermicompost (I used an old coffee container).

Add caption

Step 6: Once your pyramid is mostly worms, return it to the bin.

You’re done! Your finished compost is ready to use, and your worms are ready to get back to work in fresh bedding making vermicompost out of your fruit and vegetable scraps.

Are you ready to dig in the dirt and take your composting skills to the next level? Join us for the Worm Bin Composting Workshop, hosted by our friends at the Civic Garden Center, on Thursday, June 13 at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $15 per person. For more details, and to register, please visit the CivicGarden Center.

Binny about to bust into a rap.
Guest Blogger, Susan Jorgensen (right)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Spring Compost Tips

Compost springs eternal - finally! The temperature is climbing and the sun is shining. I’m your friendly Backyard Compost Pile and it’s time to get this party started. Like the brown bear, I’m emerging from hibernation and I’m hungry! Here are some tips to keep me productive.

  • Turn me please! My contents have slowly compacted over the winter. Turning and stirring those brown leaves creates air pockets so I can breathe. 
  • Feed me! If you choose to rake or mower-bag your grass trimmings, deposit them into your compost pile. To be productive, I need a nice mix of brown and green material.
  • Give me snacks! That’s right, a daily snack of fruit and veggie scraps makes for a healthy compost pile.
  • Let nature run its course:  the springtime pattern of April showers and sunny days helps me grow.

      Check out this post for more Spring Composting Tips.

Guest Blogger Joy Landry, Public Relations Specialist

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Genius Composting Trick

My husband recently had a clever idea that resulted in me having an easier time composting through these cold winter months. As we were cleaning out the basement after Christmas, he unearthed an old lidded garbage can that we used next to our diaper changing table. We have kept this “baby” stainless steel garbage can even though our children have been out of diapers for years.

“We should use this in the kitchen to collect scraps for composting,” he declared. During the winter my love of composting battles with my dislike of cold wet weather quite often. I usually end up with a situation looking something like this:

I think it's time to take the compost out.

“That is brilliant!” 

I immediately replaced my much loved but much smaller kitchen collector with the little can. Not only does it match our garbage can and offer more space for scraps, but the new can has a foot pedal so I do not have to lift the lid if both my hands are full. This is especially helpful for my children who always manage to lose half their orange peels as the try to take the lid off the old bucket.

Matching garbage and compost cans: check.
Groovy kitchen floor: check.

An added bonus: it has a plastic insert that I can just lift out to take out the compost.

Although beautiful, I am not sorry our snowy days are behind us.

Have you ever "repurposed" something and loved it even more?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Hippity-Hoppity on Over to a Compost Seminar

Spring is coming and the sun is shining! I feel as energized as a bunny to get outside again.

It’s also time for our annual “Get the Dirt on Backyard Composting” seminars. These opportunities are free as we spread the love of compost. 

Organic matter (compost) is soil’s life-blood, giving needed nutrients and perfect conditions for plants to grow, thrive and reproduce (just like bunnies)! After all, anyone who has held soft, black, and crumbly soil knows it’s teaming with life.

Need a refresher? Or do you just want more of your friends and family composting?  Hop on over to our website to get more information and to sign up for one of these seminars. Registration is happening now.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Compost for Thought?

What do you do when you can’t play in the dirt outside? For me, cuddling up with a good book is a grand pastime. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with reading about compost and the food we eat.

I just finished Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin who owns Polyface Farm in Virginia. The book is filled with stories on what it’s like to own a small farm in America as well as its obstacles and rewards. Although the book covers many food system topics, I have chosen to focus on the topic of compost as a great resource. After all, this is a compost blog!

Love to My Public Library

As a POCK (person of compost knowledge), you already understand how compost is a superb soil amendment, but did you know it also makes people healthier? We’ve discussed those wonderful microorganisms that live in the soil that make us happy. Now it’s time to discuss those that make us healthy.

Mr. Salatin touches on the healthier, more nutritious food produced when grown the old fashioned way: no-till, fertilized with manure and compost. Think of untouched prairie lands where the soil regenerates through plant decay and natural processes of wildlife. There’s a reason small farmers are working to bring our soil back to ‘the good old days’. Want more information on why? The Scientific American has a great article: Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?

I salute you fellow POCK for your commitment to assisting Mother Nature in her quest to keep our Earth teaming with happy and healthy life, even the unseen and often misunderstood, microorganisms.

Interested in learning more? Our office will be part of the Food Symposium: Pathway To Sustainability, occurring April 4-5, 2019. Hope to see you there!

Compost and Wasted Food Prevention Specialist, Jenny Lohmann

Always happy and healthy when in nature

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Do you compost too much?

Are you guilty of composting too much? Whaaat? 

I never have enough compost for all my gardening and lawn needs! As a matter of fact, I’ve been thinking of inviting my neighbors to bury their kitchen scraps in my pile. Yes, neighbors, you can walk through my yard and your kids can run through it. I love the outdoors and invite neighborly sharing and comradery.

Having too much to compost may be a sign that we are letting our edible food go to waste. Often we composters find those moldy berries, bread and the like but don’t think twice about pitching them in the old kitchen collector. After all, we are creating this great resource our soil needs to grow healthy plants and it’s organic!

Here’s the thing, we put a lot of time, energy, water, and other resources into growing, shipping, and storing that food. Using it as compost fodder is better than landfilling but it is way better to eat the food in the first place. Dear reader, it’s time to eat what we buy and compost the inedible parts of our food scraps. If you’d like to learn more on how you can be smarter about the food you buy, join us for one of our scheduled lunch-and-learns, beginning on February 28. 

For more information on these 45 minute ‘Save The Food’ seminars and to register visit

Guest blogger, Jenny Lohmann, Food Saving Aficionado

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Composting Basics Quiz!

While we are patiently waiting out winter to get busy with our composting again in the spring, it’s time to refresh our minds with the basics of composting. Test your knowledge about composting with this quiz!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Winter Compost Blues

Hey, there. It’s me, your backyard compost bin.  It’s winter and it seems everybody has gone into hibernation…the bears, the sunshine, and the people.

Just because it is winter doesn’t mean that I don’t need a little attention! It would be fabulous if once a week you were to hustle out in the cold and deposit some veggie scraps, apple cores, and banana peels. Trust me – I may look like a frozen tundra, but those valuable food trimmings will not go to waste! Once spring brings warmer temperatures, I will start decomposing and then throughout summer produce that dark, rich soil amendment for your garden.

It seems like once or twice in the winter months, we get those warmish sunny days like the first weekend of January. Many people will do a bit of yard work. When you rake up the errant leaves, or sweep up the pine needles from the driveway, please don’t throw them in the garbage! Be sure to put them on me – your friendly backyard compost pile. What comes from nature should go back to nature, not the landfill!

Read this post more tips on taking care of your compost pile in the winter.

Guest Blogger Joy Landry, Public Relations Specialist