5 Surprising Compost Tricks for 2017

Posted on May 6, 2017

Green Calgary has been talking a lot this year about setting your Green Goals, whether that’s giving up on using plastic straws, or just doing a little better at water conservation. Next week is International Compost Awareness Week and composting is a great Green Goal to aspire to – so let’s celebrate composting together! Whether you’re already doing some composting or you’re looking to start out, here are 5 surprising compost tricks:

1. Treat your compost as a pet. It might sound bizarre, but compost is full of living organisms, whether you’re using worms, bokashi, or just backyard compost – these creatures are relying on you to feed them and fix their problems, just like a pet. Many will even tell you if they’re not doing well by starting to stink. If you treat them like your pet, you’ll find that you will get better compost.

2. Compost in more ways than one. It might sound like more work, but composting doesn’t have to be a single system. Different methods give you different benefits and many will compliment each other. Bokashi can kickstart your backyard composter, for example, and worms are a good counter-balance to the backyard composter, too. With the City of Calgary’s Green Carts on their way, you can even do whichever of these methods is easiest for you and give the rest to the city. 

3. Freezing makes things easy. This doesn’t seem so surprising when you think of it, but it doesn’t show up on many lists of composting advice. While this doesn’t really apply to bokashi, in other systems freezing your compostable materials first can be a big help. For worms, it breaks down the cell walls of fruits and veggies, making them easier to eat and speeding up the process. For backyard composters, you’ll find that you’ll get a bigger benefit if you add a lot of material at once, so it can retain heat more easily. In either case, freezing your food waste will also keep fruit flies and smells away. Just make sure you thaw the materials before you add them.

4. Add coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are full of nitrogen and other nutrients great for composting, and you might think “sure, but I don’t drink coffee,” that’s where the surprising bit comes in – many coffee shops save their grounds and give them to people for free. Ask at your local coffee shop and you might find you have access to a great, free resource!

5. Save things to add to compost. Sometimes it’s obvious, but sometimes it’s not. There is a lot that you can compost that can benefit you more if you don't add it to your bin right away. You can save dry leaves, peanut shells, even some of your frozen waste, to balance your compost. You can also put aside things that might be acidic, like pine needles, and things more alkaline, like ashes (not from the bbq or toxin-riddled briquettes, but from wood fires in your fireplace or backyard fire pit). When your bin starts getting out of balance one way or another, you’ll have a corrective to fix things. 

This is only one short list of some of the most surprising tips about composting, but there is tons of more info out there. Just beware online – many sites are not thinking of a Canadian climate and so give advice that might not work here. You can always call our Help Desk or come into the Green Hub (#100, 301 – 14th Street NW) and talk to us. If you’re looking for a composter, or just need some more compost on its own, you can visit us at one of our Rain Barrel & Composter Sales in the next two months. We’ll have educators onsite to help you make the best decision for your lifestyle and yard. Good luck with your #greengoals! Happy #GreenSeason and happy Compost Week!


EDIT: 4 more tips from Conor and Hillary!