Develop into “a part of the life cycle” by composting »Albuquerque Journal]

Composting not only helps create new garden soil, it also reduces the amount of methane that is released into the atmosphere.

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

I grew up on a small dairy farm in the Midwest. We had a large garden and grew most of our food but didn’t compost. The chickens enjoyed the vegetable scraps the pigs did not devour. Table debris and bones went to the dog. My genius mother even cooked potato peels to compliment the dog’s dinner.

I learned about composting in the late 1960s when Rodale Press popularized organic horticulture. Composting was the eleventh commandment. It was effortless. Then I moved to the desert.

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Our soils are poor here. Often, in order to work in the garden, you need to create new soil, which you can continually add to through composting. However, this is not the only reason for composting. Throwing your garden and food waste in the trash and it ends up in the landfill will produce methane, emit carbon and increase global warming. Methane is 28% more effective than carbon dioxide. It is responsible for at least 6% of all global emissions.

Judith Polich

European countries can compost much better than we do. According to Paul Hawken, editor of Drawdown, still the world’s best guide to reversing global warming, higher-income countries like us could achieve the composting of our European counterparts and avoid methane emissions from landfills equivalent to 2.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050. ”

Vermont recently commissioned composting. No more leftover food can end up in the trash. You go to the compost bin. If you don’t compost at home, those litter and garden scraps go to the community composter or are fed to animals.

How do you make a compost heap?

A good guide can be found on the Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency website: www.sfswma.org/green-waste/. They suggest three basic ingredients: brown, green, and water. The fourth essential ingredient is oxygen, which is why you will be turning your stack a lot. Brown tones provide the carbon, green the nitrogen and water is important so that the mixture breaks down into organic matter. Greens can be vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, weeds, and plant thins. Browns can be leaves, chopped twigs, animal litter, shredded paper, or junk mail.

Others may disagree, but we do it differently. We don’t put paper in our compost, nor do we add bread, pasta or meat. You may want to grind up eggshells to make them break up more easily. We add some crap to create heat. We also add some soil to cover the top of the mixture and we keep layering. We learned to pour a lot and turn a lot. Every few months or so, we harvest beautiful compost, which is an excellent addition to our entire garden.

Compost heaps can attract pests like skunks or raccoons looking for a free meal. It helps to have a fenced yard and an enclosed compost heap. We both have, but something got into our compost. It was a mystery until we saw our dog Pacha jump over the low enclosure and eat a small snack. A dog-safe fence solved this problem.

Your compost heap should smell earthy, like forest floor, but not like garbage. Microorganisms as well as invertebrates and fungi convert organic matter into compost. A good compost heap reaches up to 140-160 degrees and kills all weed seeds and plant diseases.

Trevor Ortiz is Operations Manager at Reunity Resources in Santa Fe, the largest commercial composter in the area. Your compost heaps are huge – half a block by 30 feet. I asked where they got all of their material from.

“Before COVID, most of the food waste came from schools and restaurants, but now mostly from grocery banks in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and local residents who either drop it off or arrange for it to be picked up,” said Trevor. “Your brown material comes from scrap wood that was ground at Buckman Transfer Station.”

Instead of rotating their stacks, they use aerators made from large perforated tubes that pump in oxygen. They wet the entire stacks to 68% moisture content. Then the microorganisms take over and turn the waste into rich compost.

“We produce about 155 cubic meters a month,” said Trevor.

Reunity sells compost and mulch in bulk and in bags.

I asked Trevor why people should compost. We know it reduces methane and binds carbon and creates soil. But Trevor said the most important reason is “to bring back to earth the premium she gave in a healthy way that revitalizes the soil – it’s part of the life cycle.”

Judith Polich, a longtime New Mexico resident, is a retired attorney with a background in environmental studies and a student on climate change. Contact her at [email protected] ”> href =” http: //judith.pol ”> [email protected]

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