Buy a composter for your property
The City sells composters for $45 + HST (available at the Waste Resource Innovation Centre May 1 to September 30). Our composters hold 300 litres (80 gallons), measure 82 centimetres in diameter, 82 centimetres tall (33 by 33 inches), and weigh 6.8 kilograms (15 pounds).
It all starts in the kitchen
Use a kitchen compost bin to collect vegetable food waste and empty it into your composter every few days. Don’t put meat, fish, or dairy products in your home composter – the City collects those in your green organics cart.
How to use a backyard composter
You need equal amounts of “green” nitrogen-rich material (fruit and vegetable peels and cores, coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells and garden waste) and “brown” carbon-rich material (dried grass and plants, leaves, sawdust, wood chips, straw, dried bread, shredded paper and coffee filters).
- Choose a sunny spot with good drainage, loosen soil underneath so earthworms can move up
- Put down about 10 centimetres (four inches) of brown material for good air circulation
- Add five to seven centimetres (two to three inches) of green material and spread evenly
- Cover green material with 10 centimetres (four inches) of brown to reduce fruit flies, odours and other pests
- Keep mixture about as moist as a wrung-out sponge
- Mix in green material, cover with brown material, keep moist, and repeat – the more you mix, the quicker the compost!
If you experience odours, insects or other problems, adjust the mixture of green and brown materials so there are equal amounts in your composter.
Composters allow naturally occurring bacteria and fungi to break down plant material. They need air, moisture and food. They work faster when there’s a variety of well-mixed materials.
It can take practice and patience, and when the pile starts shrinking or letting off steam that means it’s working really well.
When your compost is finished, it will be very dark and crumbly with an earthy smell. Use it on flower beds, houseplants and starter boxes, vegetable gardens, around trees or shrubs and as a lawn dressing when sifted.
Do not add meat, fish, or dairy products, diseased or invasive plants, pet poop or litter to your composter.
In the winter
Use all your finished compost in the fall to make room in your composter.
Save some dried leaves and brown material so you can use it to cover the green material you add over the winter.
Cold temperatures will slow things down, and then freeze the material inside your composter. Give it a good stir in the spring to make it active again.
Worm composting in winter and in small spaces
If you don’t have a yard, you can use worms to compost vegetable food waste all year round. You can make or buy a worm composting (vermicomposting) bin and put it under your sink, in a classroom or on a balcony. Bins and instructions are available from a number of retailers.