Curious About Composting? Add Bamboo for a Healthy, Sustainable Garden

People composting with bamboo

Did you know that 47% of people making New Year's resolutions say they want to eat healthier? I’m definitely included in that group and maybe you are too. Typically it looks like stocking up on produce during my weekly shopping trip, eagerly chopping it all up, and stocking my fridge like a certified health nut. Whether I actually eat the produce or it slowly wilts away is a topic for another blog post. But what’s rarely talked about is what to do with all the watermelon rinds, carrot peels, and apple cores this new lifestyle leaves behind. Most likely they’re swiped into the trash and forgotten about as I wait for my healthy transformation to begin.

Until the next morning when something in the air just doesn’t seem right…

What’s that smell?

Oh, just the remnants of my new healthy lifestyle slowly rotting in the garbage can and leaving an odor of decay throughout my kitchen. If this has ever happened to you, you can likely smell the rotting peels right through the screen.

Not to worry friend. The solution is easier than you think and will actually help you double down on your commitment to a healthier lifestyle. You just need to start composting!

In This Article
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    What Is Composting?

    Composting is a great way to turn your food scraps and yard waste into a valuable resource for your garden. By breaking down these materials, you can create a rich material for your soil that's packed with nutrients and helps your plants grow. Composting reduces the amount of waste that goes to the landfill and is a simple way to conserve resources and avoid chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

    Composting also leads to healthier plants and higher yields. It improves soil structure and fertility and helps to retain moisture so you don't have to water as often. A University of Michigan study found that increasing your soil with compost from just 1% to 2% doubles the volume of water your soil can hold. Using compost in your soil can reduce watering by 25%!

    The secret to successful composting is all about finding the right balance of carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials. Leaves, straw, and sawdust are carbon-rich, while food scraps, grass clippings, and green plant material are nitrogen-rich. A good ratio to aim for is between 25:1 and 30:1, with more carbon-rich materials balancing out the high nitrogen content of food scraps and grass clippings. With composting, you can turn waste into treasure for your garden, and help the environment at the same time.

    Reducing Food Waste

    In the US alone, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted every year and 28% of that could be composted. The next time you have some leftovers or food scraps you’re tempted to toss out, consider adding them to a compost bin.

    Composting allows you to reuse your food waste by breaking it down into a form that can be used to improve the health and fertility of gardens and lawns. This reduces the amount of waste that would otherwise be sent to landfills, where it would release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as it decomposes. Food waste is said to be responsible for 20% of the total methane released every year. By composting food waste, you can conserve resources and reduce your carbon footprint, while producing a valuable resource for your plants.

    How Do You Use Bamboo in Composting?

    You already know bamboo is considered one of the most sustainable resources on the planet, but did you know it can boost the health of your soil? There are a few ways to incorporate bamboo into composting and some of them may surprise you.

    Bamboo as a Compost Ingredient

    Adding bamboo to the mix makes composting even better! Bamboo is not only a fast-growing and versatile plant, but it's also packed with essential components that every compost pile needs.

    The leaves of bamboo are loaded with nitrogen while the stalks are rich in carbon. It also helps keep the compost pile from becoming too dense. Anything made from bamboo can be composted, including old bamboo straws, spoons, and even paper towels. So next time you're making compost, don't forget to bring in the bamboo!

    Improving Compost Structure

    Bamboo keeps your compost pile from turning into a big smelly mess. Not only is it packed with essential nitrogen and carbon, but its tough fibers also help give the compost pile a much-needed breath of fresh air. The bamboo creates pockets of air in the pile that allows airflow and better decomposition.

    If you're thinking about incorporating bamboo into your compost game, there are a few ways to do it. You can just throw in some leaves and stalks straight into the pile, or you can get creative and chop or shred the bamboo before mixing it with other carbon-rich materials like leaves and straw. Either way, your compost pile will thank you for the upgrade. And your plants will be even happier with the improved soil they get as a result.

    Bamboo Compost Tea

    While it may sound weird, you can also use bamboo to make compost tea. All you need are some bamboo leaves and stalks, and a bit of patience as you let it steep in water for a few days. The result is a nutrient-packed liquid that can be used as a foliar spray, a fertilizer spray used directly on leaves instead of mixing it into the soil Bamboo compost tea can also be used as a soil drench for your plants. The tea helps strengthen the plant's ability to ward off insects and harmful fungi.

    Bamboo Composting Containers and Tools

    Bamboo is also great for making composting containers and tools. Think about it – bamboo is naturally resistant to decay and bugs, so you won't have to worry about your composting tools falling apart on you. Plus, it's lightweight and easy to work with, making it perfect for DIY composting projects.

    When it comes to containers, bamboo is versatile and durable – you can use it to make composting tumblers or bins that are long-lasting and eco-friendly.

    How to Start a Home Compost Bin

    They say the best way to save the world is to start at home and this is especially true in gardening and composting. Growing your food helps reduce your impact on the environment and composting is a great way to reduce food waste and support your growing efforts.

    Backyard Composting

    Starting a backyard compost bin is simple if you know where to start.

    1. Choose a location for your compost bin. It should be near your kitchen for easy access and in a well-drained area to avoid excess moisture.
    2. Decide on the type of compost bin you want to use. You can buy a pre-made bin, build your own with wood or wire mesh, or use a compost tumbler.
    3. Prepare the bin by adding a layer of carbon-rich materials like dead leaves, straw, or shredded newspaper on the bottom.
    4. Begin adding your food and yard waste, alternating between layers of green materials (e.g. fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings) and brown materials (e.g. dry leaves, twigs).
    5. Turn the compost every few weeks with a garden fork to ensure it gets aerated and breaks down evenly.
    6. Keep your compost bin moist but not too wet, and make sure to cover it to keep out rain and pests.

    With a little bit of patience and care, you'll have rich compost for your garden in no time.

    Indoor Composting

    If you don’t have space for a backyard bin or just want to start small, try an indoor bamboo compost bin. I really love the countertop compost bin from Bamboozle. It comes with charcoal filters, biodegradable liner bags, and a sample of Kenkashi hemp kenaf to use as a compost accelerator. The bin fits perfectly under my sink but would look great left on the counter too.

    To get started with an indoor bamboo compost bin:

    1. Choose a location for your bamboo compost bin. Your kitchen counter or under the sink may be most convenient.
    2. Line the bottom of the bin with a compostable liner, like a biodegradable bag or newspaper.
    3. If your bin allows, add a charcoal filter to absorb odors.
    4. Start adding your food waste, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells. Avoid adding meat, dairy, or oils.
    5. Sprinkle in some compost accelerator, such as a handful of soil or compost, to help the waste break down faster.
    6. Close the lid and store the bin in a cool, dry place. Empty the bin when it's about three-quarters full.
    7. Once the bin is full, transfer the compost to an outdoor compost bin or directly into your garden to continue breaking down.
    8. Clean the indoor compost bin regularly to keep it fresh.

    With an indoor bamboo compost bin, you can easily compost food waste right in your kitchen, reducing your waste and helping the environment.

    Common Concerns When Composting

    You may be reluctant to start composting because you’ve heard some horror stories about odors and pests. Luckily simple fixes can keep the smell, raccoons, and bugs away.

    • Odor: A pungent, sour smell may mean the compost pile is too wet, lacks proper aeration, or has too much food waste. To fix this, add dry carbon-rich materials such as bamboo, leaves, or straw. Turn the pile to improve aeration, or reduce the amount of food waste added to the pile.
    • Slow decomposition: If you're finding that your compost pile is taking forever to decompose, you might need to add more nitrogen-rich materials like bamboo, grass clippings, or food scraps, or maybe give it a bit more water. You can also try giving the pile a good turn, which will help to improve airflow and speed up the decomposition process.
    • Pests: Unfortunately, compost piles can attract pests like rodents and insects looking for food. To prevent this, bury food waste deep in the pile and cover it with a tight-fitting lid or tarp. This will discourage pests from hanging around. Indoor bins are less likely to attract pests, but you still need to keep your bin sealed and clean it regularly. Try using a vinegar-based cleaner on the inside and outside of your bin to discourage pests.
    • Lack of heat: Compost piles need heat to decompose properly, but if the pile is too small, it may not generate enough heat. To fix this, make sure the pile is large enough and turn the pile to improve aeration and increase the internal temperature. Indoor compost bins are likely closer to room temperature so in warmer months set your bin outdoors to gather a little heat from the sun.

    Be sure you don’t add any meat, dairy, or fatty foods to your compost bin as those are much more likely to attract pests and create an unpleasant smell.

    Composting Bamboo Products

    If you’re using 100% bamboo products you can compost them at the end of their lifecycle. Bamboo is a highly renewable resource, making it a great choice for products, reducing waste, and helping the environment.

    When it comes to composting bamboo products, the process is just like any other organic material. Break the bamboo product into small pieces and mix it in with your other compost ingredients. Over time, the bamboo will break down and become a valuable addition to your compost, adding nutrients and improving the structure of the compost.

    A few things you may consider composting are bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo utensils like spoons, chopsticks, and forks, and bamboo packaging. Bamboo textiles can also be composted, but only if they haven’t been treated with chemicals or dyes.

    The next time you're thinking of disposing of a bamboo product, consider composting it instead. You'll be helping to reduce waste, conserve resources, and create a valuable resource for your garden.

    Composting With Bamboo Is Easy and Sustainable

    Composting is a smart and eco-friendly way to handle waste and care for our gardens and lawns. Adding bamboo to the composting process can bring extra nutrients and structure to the compost. From throwing in bamboo leaves and stalks to building a compost bin with bamboo, there's no shortage of ways to utilize this versatile and sustainable plant in composting.

    Looking for more ways to live sustainably? Check out how to use bamboo to create a sustainable kitchen in your own home!