Don’t Delay, Start Composting Today

Not only will you save money and improve your garden, but you’ll also make fewer trips to the transfer station, all while helping the environment. You can do it in your backyard, under your sink or in your garage.

How can composting save you money? If you have a garden, you’ll buy less potting soil, fertilizer and other soil amendments. 

A compost pile that has recently been turned and shows both nearly-composed material as well as new kitchen scraps.

Anytime is a good time to start a compost pile. The fall is an especially good time because it’s a time when people usually have the most compostable waste. You can continue to add compostable food waste throughout the winter. In the spring, your pile will be ready to rot. 

Compost (organic matter) is sometimes called “black gold” because it’s so beneficial to your garden.   Continue reading

Before you Toss Your Fish Carcasses Back Into the River, Consider Making Bone Broth or Composting Them

For many Alaskans, it’s time for fishing! But before you toss your fish carcasses back into the river, consider two options to eke out every last bit of goodness from them. One is to make soup and one is to compost them. Better yet, do both and make broth or soup first, then compost the carcasses or make some soup and some compost. Fish broth is nutritious and tasty for you, and fish compost is nutritious and tasty for your plants.

This recipe incorporates salmon heads, and I would not hesitate to add the tails and bones, too. I would also recommend Brazilian fish stew.

A large compost pile is heating up to 160 degreed Fand steam is riding off of it.

You want to make sure your pile does not heat up over 160 degrees F. You can see the steam coming off this pile. You can monitor your pile with a long-stemmed thermometer.

Methods and materials for composting fish abound. Traditionally, fish was just buried in the garden with decent results. In Alaska, you do risk attracting dogs, bears, flies and other pests to your garden if you practice this method. Steve Kahn wrote in the Anchorage Daily News that one year in the fall, even though there were plenty of other fish washed up on the shore of Lake Clark, bears churned up his garden to get at the ones he and his wife had buried.

If you plan to compost the carcasses, you’ll want to make sure that you have a large bin or pile and that it is fenced in – perhaps with an electric fence if bears or dogs are problematic where you live.

Fish heads are being layered in with fireweed in this compost pile.

Fish heads are being layered in with fireweed in this pile.

Much of these same principles apply to composting in general as with any composting, but there are some additional considerations. Fish composting has the potential to turn into a positively rank operation so you need to have a large enough bin or pile to manage those odors. In general, for a compost pile to heat up, it needs to be at least a cubic yard in size. But when composting fish, bigger is better. Continue reading