Thanksgiving dinner may mean lots of kitchen cleanup, and your compost pile or bin can help. Here are some tips that can benefit your kitchen cleanup and your composter this holiday.
Before you start sending nitrogen-rich kitchen wastes to your compost bin, remember: There are some things you shouldn’t send. Fatty and oily food wastes – like meat trimmings and salad dressings – should be kept out of the compost. Fatty kitchen wastes attract pests to the composter and do not decompose well in most compost piles. So if you want to really want to recycle the turkey carcass, use it to make soup or stock.
Most of the other kitchen wastes created by typical Thanksgiving fare will benefit your compost pile. From the salad, you’ll get lettuce stalks and other vegetable wastes high in nitrogen. Main vegetable dishes, like squash and sweet potatoes, will provide peels, shells and seeds to compost. Pie making will give you fruit rinds and peels – as well as the pumpkin shell, if you decided this is the year to make your own pumpkin pie from scratch.
Follow good composting practices when you’re recycling Thanksgiving dinner waste and leftovers. If your compost pile is recently established, kitchen wastes can be spread in a layer, sprinkled with water and covered with shredded leaves. Be sure that fresh wastes are well-buried in the compost pile, as winter temperatures may slow decomposition – and wildlife may decide your leftovers might make a good snack.
Barrel or tumbler compost bins are great for backyard composting in the fall or winter. Add your Thanksgiving leftovers in, being sure to rotate the bin as normal. If decomposition is already ongoing, it may only be a few weeks before your Thanksgiving food wastes are ready to be turned into your next garden. Some composters move indoors during the winter, sending kitchen wastes to a worm bin. If that’s you, be sure not to overload your worms with the leftovers. A tightly covered container can hold extra organic matter, to be added later, and your worms will enjoy their own Thanksgiving leftovers long after the guests are gone.