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The Value of Composting

Charles Santerre
NB Department of the Environment
May 1999

 

a.gif (364 bytes)lthough many householders have recently added composting to their yard and garden care activities, it's not a new phenomenon at all. Our grandparents' generation knew the value of composting their yard and kitchen wastes. Giving back some of the nourishment they took from the earth made good common sense...and it still does!

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(photo: NB Department of the Environment)


In today's New Brunswick, composting is a traditional idea with a broad new appeal. It's making a strong comeback in all parts of the Province, as people look for positive things they can do themselves to benefit the environment. With just a little effort, the results can be very satisfying.

Composting doesn't require elaborate equipment or a background in science. With some basic information and waste materials, anyone can produce compost in as little as two weeks, or within a year, depending on the attention we want to give the process. Composting uses nature's own recycling system. Weeds and leaves, grass clippings, vegetable peels, and various other organic wastes are turned into humus. That's an essential soil conditioner which is richer than anything we can buy.

For a more detailed explanation of what and how to compost, please click on the photos below.

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(photos: NB Department of the Environment)

 

Why throw away the raw material which generates something so valuable? Especially when composting has other benefits as well.

Up to 30 per cent of the garbage we dispose of each week can go in the compost pile. Cutting domestic waste generation means a longer life for landfill sites and better environmental and economic management for the entire community.

Compost not only enriches the soil, limiting the damage caused by insects and disease, but can draw the sun's heat, warming the soil, and extending our growing season. Compost can also improve the structure of both sand and clay soils, protecting them against drought and erosion.

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(photo: NB Department of the Environment)

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"Compost
not only enriches
the soil..."

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Composting can be an individual, neighbourhood, school, or community-wide endeavour. Information materials about home composting are available to the public from the NB Department of the Environment in both paper and electronic formats. More information about the "train the trainer" program, aimed at assisting communities in setting up and maintaining individual or larger-scale composting operations, may also be available from your local solid waste commission.

Have a look at the environment department's composting handbook "Backyard Magic" online. First, go the department's web page at http://www.gov.nb.ca/environm/index.htm , then click on "General Public Information".

Here are some of the topics addressed in the handbook:

- the benefits of composting
- how composting works
- types of composting containers
- what can and cannot be composted
- an FAQ (frequently asked questions)
- composting indoors: special info aimed at
   apartment dwellers

Backyard magic : The composting handbook