Think you can’t compost in the city? Karen lives in London, England, with three kids, and they’ve composted in their yard for over three years. Read on to learn more about how this everyday family diverts their food waste from landfills while also feeding their garden.
The Compost Chronicles series highlights families in various circumstances who have all found a way to compost at home that works for their lifestyle. Hopefully, you can be inspired to give it a go and help our planet become a little healthier.
Did you know that composting can transform your trash into new life? And that new life, in the form of microbes, fungi, earthworms, and more, provides the foundation for much of all other healthy life on Earth?
Composting is a great way to create healthy soil to support people and our planet. Healthy soil is also a magical carbon sink that absorbs carbon from our atmosphere and helps cool the planet. While dead dirt has few living organisms, a teaspoon of healthy soil has more living organisms in it than the entire population of humans on Planet Earth!
We need everyone to learn how to compost at home and make it a part of everyday life.
Don’t think you can compost? We’ve got a whole set of resources on Everything To Know About How To Compost At Home, including more Compost Chronicles interviews.
All of this information about how to compost at home will hopefully prove that just about anyone can make space and find a system to turn their food scraps into nutrient-rich compost to enrich our soil, feed our food cycle, and limit the food waste that ends up in landfills.
In this edition of Compost Chronicles, let me introduce you to Karen. Karen hails from London and composts in the city to feed her growing garden. Let her take it away!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, your family, etc…?
Hi, I’m Karen, a mum of three small kids and we live in North London.
Tell us a little bit about why you decided to start composting?
I’ve lived for 15 years in the big smoke (London) and for most of that time have never had any outside space. So when we moved into somewhere with a real garden, I wanted to make as much use of it as possible. We started planting seeds and growing our own vegetables, but the soil was really compacted and not great,
We started our own compost heap to add nutrients and feed the soil and ultimately create a beautiful garden and haven for birds and bees in this big city. Both my husband and I come from families where composting food and garden waste is just something that you do, so I guess that was part of it too.
What method or methods of composting do you use or have you used?
We have a big green bin made from recycled plastic that sits at the back of the garden. It’s nothing fancy. It isn’t hot compost or anything, but it works really well. It just has a lid at the top for our food scraps and a slide opening at the bottom to remove the finished compost. During the winter months, things take a while to decompose, but during the summer months, this happens really quickly.
How do you store the scraps until they are taken to your compost pile?
I learnt this the hard way. I used to have a small compost bin in my kitchen for waste food scraps, but the fruit flies became a real issue. So now I just use an open Tupperware pot on the side and I empty it at the end of every day. Then wash it clean. The kids know this is where they put orange skins, apple cores, etc…, and when I cook, all my vegetable peelings go in it.
Have you had any issues with animals or pests getting into your compost pile?
Living in London, foxes are a real issue. There is a fox den in a piece of spare land behind our road. So we’ve been really careful about what we put in our compost, only uncooked vegetable and fruit waste and garden waste is allowed, and so far we haven’t had a problem.
How does your family feel about composting?
The kids love it and are very involved, helping me with trips down to the bottom of the garden and always asking me which is the right bin to put something in.
Have you experienced any benefits from composting, especially ones that might have surprised you?
During lockdown last year, we really struggled to get hold of any seeds. So we just planted some sunflowers kindly given to us by a neighbour. We also couldn’t get any additional compost, so used all our own. Amazingly, we didn’t only produce sunflowers that year, courgettes (called squash in the United States) grew as well out of the compost. It was a lovely surprise.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers about your composting practices, especially to help beginners gain confidence that they too can compost?
As long as you physically have space, composting is really doable and not time-consuming. Plus, saving food from landfills means that its nutrient value is captured and stops more methane from being released into the atmosphere. Personally, I find it important to mix green garden and vegetable waste with brown waste, (i.e wood chippings, cardboard, prunings, etc…) to get the right conditions for everything to break down. I roughly aim for 50/50 of each.
Where else can we find you and learn more about what you’re up to?
I’d love to hear from you. Do head over to www.n4mummy.com where I write about sustainable life and fashion or have a chat with me on Instagram @n4mummy.
Want to share how you compost at home?
We’re always on the hunt for more great composters to tell their story and encourage others by sharing just how easy it can be to compost no matter your lifestyle. You definitely don’t have to be a blogger or have any online presence to share how you make sure your food scraps don’t end up in the landfill.