When customers come to your business to create an outdoor oasis for birds, there are several tips you can offer to help them attract feathered friends. From birdhouses and feeders to plants that attract native birds, there are many things to suggest. However, one gardening technique that can also draw these colorful animals to view is composting.
In the September issue of Hardware Retailing, composting was mentioned as one way to improve the garden and attract wild birds to the yard.
So what is composting? According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow.” Since 30 percent of what people throw away is food scraps and yard waste, composting can prevent that material from ending up in a landfill and releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, the EPA says.
How to Compost Food, Yard Waste
Composting requires browns, greens and water. Browns include materials like dead leaves, branches and twigs. Greens include materials like grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds. Having the right balance of water, greens and browns is important for compost development, the EPA says.
“Your compost pile should have an equal amount of browns to greens,” the EPA article says. “You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.”
Make sure you explain to your customers the materials that are OK to compost and what waste should be avoided. Most of the items included on the “do not compost” list are included because they might be harmful to plants, could pass on diseases or create unwanted odors and attract pests like rodents and flies.
What to Compost
- Fruits and vegetables
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Tea bags
- Nut shells
- Shredded newspaper
- Yard trimmings
- Grass clippings
- Hay and straw
- Wood chips
- Cotton and wool rags
- Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
- Hair and fur
- Fireplace ashes
What Not to Compost
- Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
- Coal or charcoal ash
- Dairy products
- Diseased or insect-ridden plants
- Fats, grease, lard or oils
- Meat or fish bones and scraps
- Pet wastes
- Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
Benefits of Composting
Not only does composting waste materials help eliminate additional waste in landfills but it also enriches the soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and helps produce beneficial bacteria and fungi to break down organic matter.
The benefits of composting are passed down to birds as well, according to an article on the website birdfreak.com.
“Compost feeds soil the nutrients it needs: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium as well as smaller amounts of micronutrients such as magnesium, calcium, iron and sulfur,” the article says.
“More benefits of compost on your soil include regulating soil pH, improving the soil texture and encouraging the microbes that move nutrients to the plants. Healthier soil means healthier plants and you won’t have to buy fertilizer. Compost helps promote the growth of microorganisms, insects and worms. So really, composting is for the birds.”