Composting is the natural
process of decomposition of organic material into a rich soil amendment.
Composting helps to reduce the amount of organic materials being thrown
out in the trash. Studies indicate that most household garbage contains
about 25% organic, compostable material! This includes, but is not limited to, fruit,
vegetables, pasta, bread, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, and shredded
following town transfer stations host a food waste/organics collection
for their town residents: Bernardston, Conway, Deerfield, Leverett, Montague, New Salem,
Northfield, Orange, Wendell, and Whately. In addition, any District
bring organic waste to the Greenfield Transfer Station, at no cost.
If you don't have access to a drop-off food waste program, you may consider backyard composting. Backyard composting is easy and
affordable. In fact, it may save you money in the long run by reducing
the amount you pay to dispose of your trash. Yard wastes such as leaves
and grass clippings can be used as well as food scraps.
The District sells Earth Machine compost bins. The Earth Machine compost bin is rodent-resistant and has a
capacity of 11 cubic feet.
It has a sliding door at the bottom for removing compost and a locking
lid. It is made from post-consumer recycled plastic. The Earth Machine is not bear-proof.
Machine compost bins are available to all District residents for
$55. Residents of Bernardston, Conway, Deerfield, Leverett, Montague, New Salem,
Northfield, Orange, Wendell, and Whately may purchase a compost bin for
$25 through a subsidized pricing incentive provided by these towns.
District also sells Sure Close kitchen compost pails for $5.
These are versatile collection pails for under the sink or even
the counter-top. They are dishwasher safe and includ post-consumer recycled
There are several locations
that sell Earth Machines. The Solid Waste District office sells Sure
Close kitchen pails. Subsidized compost bins are available at the
District's office, at the Orange Transfer Station for Orange residents,
and at WRATS for Wendell residents.
The Earth Machine and Benefits of Composting
Earth Machine compost bin helps hold in heat and moisture, keeps animals
out, and looks more attractive than open compost pile. Organic material
will start to turn to compost in the bin in 3 to 6 months. Compost,
known as "black gold" to gardeners, replenishes nutrients in the soil,
helps retain moisture, makes the soil easy to work, and helps plants
resist disease. Compost makes plants healthy so they can overcome
adverse conditions without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
you choose to purchase a backyard compost bin or create your own bin, your compost
bin or pile should consist of three parts “brown” material and one part
“green” material. This provides food for the compost organisms in a
recipe that will not create odors. “Brown” ingredients include leaves,
straw, dried grass clippings, wood chips, sawdust, pine needles, and
shredded paper products such as napkins, bags, plates, coffee filters,
tissue and newspaper. “Green” materials include fresh grass clippings,
weeds, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells,
manure, and seaweed. Make sure the materials are damp as you build the
pile, especially the “browns.” As you build the pile, sprinkle on
several shovels full of rich garden soil or finished compost after every
12” of fresh material.
Leaves are an important
ingredient of any composting effort. Without them, your compost may
become too wet and create odors. If you have leaves available, use them
to start your compost pile and save the rest to add during the summer.
Compostable food scraps and grass clippings should be buried under about
6" of leaves, where they will decompose without odor. If leaves are in
short supply, add plenty of shredded paper towels, napkins and torn up
paper bags to provide the necessary carbon, and always bury your food
scraps under this material.
Most of the composting
work is done by soil organisms that convert organic material to humus.
They need oxygen, just as we do. Lack of oxygen will slow down the
composting process and cause odors. The Earth Machine allows air to
penetrate the pile. If you have a home-made compost pile, periodically turn your
pile, fluff it with a hoe or turning tool, or build air passages into
the pile to keep your compost pile aerobic and odor-free.
about three months, the material will start to turn to compost. The
material at the bottom of the pile will be ready first. As more time
goes by, the level of compost in the pile will rise until it is easy to
access just below the surface. You will know your compost is ready to
use when it looks like rich, brown soil and no longer resembles the
Compost benefits all plants,
and there are many different ways to use it. Add a handful of compost to
each transplant hole when planting seedlings or potted plants. Spread
another handful on the surface of the soil around the newly planted
seedling, making sure that the compost is not touching the stem or trunk
of the plant. Spread compost as a mulch around perennials, shrubs and
other existing plantings. If you are planting seeds, apply one-half to
three inches of compost and mix it in with the top four inches of soil
in the seedbed. To rejuvenate lawns, screen your compost using 1⁄2”
screening. Sprinkle the screened compost on the lawn about 1⁄4” deep.
Screened compost is also excellent for reseeding lawns. Sprinkle it 1⁄2”
deep over the bare spots and distribute new grass seed on top. You can
even make excellent potting soil with compost by mixing equal parts
compost, sand, and loam.
Franklin County Solid Waste Management
117 Main Street, 2nd Floor
Greenfield, MA 01301
Tel: (413) 772-2438
MA Relay for the hearing impaired:
711 or 1-800-439-2370 (TTY/TDD)
Fax: (413) 772-3786
Staff email addresses
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