A long-time backyard composter with a passion for
reducing our impact on the planet, Michelle offers
for home composters in the
Confessions of a Composter
, teaching classes on backyard composting, and
learning everything she can about composting, recycling,
reusing, and waste reduction.
If you’ve been hesitant to begin composting (worried about
appearance, smell, or lack of know how) Michelle points out that
advances in technology and in composting science make composting a
very doable and positive experience.
If you are looking for expert advise on beginning
composting or if you are curious about
various techniques including traditional
bins and piles, vermicomposting, trench composting, black soldier
fly larvae composting - and more, Michelle shares it
all in today’s episode.
Remember the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies
where they talk about black gold? In that
case, the reference was to Texas Tea or oil. But,
gardeners know that black gold is compost - that
rich, dark, earthy, crumbly substance worth its weight in
Compost offer undeniable benefits in the
- You can teach children about decomposition and zero
waste using the compost pile as a home laboratory.
- Compost makes great soil to cultivate healthy
plants. Compost stimulates the creation of soil
particle clusters and that creates better soil structure -
complete with healthy air pockets and channels that connect
all the soil particle clusters.
- Compost decreases the need to use chemicals and
fertilizers. Plus, it naturally reduces
- It's good old compost that fosters diverse life in the
soil - from worms and fungi to bugs and birds.
- Additionally, you can conserve water with
compost by improving water retention and decreasing run
- Compost is a fantastic way to prevent erosion
and promote strong root systems in plants.
- Finally, you can reduce waste. By composting,
you are diverting food waste from landfills. Yaaaaas! An EPA study
performed showed that upto a quarter of all landfill
waste could be composted instead of being sent to the landfill.
That's incredible. Imagine... 25 percent of all waste could be
turned into black gold.
Truly, compost is a worthwhile garden investment and no one is
more convinced that today’s guest, Michelle
Balz. A lifelong resident of
Cincinnati, waste management is also Michelle’s
day job in her work for the Hamilton County Recycling and
Solid Waste District. As the Assistant Solid Waste
Manager, Michelle’s mission is to reduce the amount of solid
waste going to the landfill. She works with communities on
curb side recycling. She spends a lot of time
in education and outreach to everyone who creates trash. She
helps businesses set up recycling programs. She goes out to
communities to set up curbside recycling, she hosts composting
seminars, and leads seminars on how to reduce food waste. She
leads outreach campaigns to promotes recycling and
helps schools with education programs and implementing
recycling and waste reduction. Whew.
So, back to you. Do you want to start
composting, but you somehow haven’t started yet?
Guess what? Getting started is the hardest part
about composting. As Michelle points out: Composting is simple
and you can start right away. Furthermore, you can also be as
lazy or industrious about it as you want to be.
One of the things you’ll hear Michelle says early in the
interview, is how saving food scraps is just second nature for
That’s how it started at our house, too.
I wanted to save coffee grounds, so I bought
a stainless steel bin from Goodwill and I put it by the container
that holds our coffee beans.
I wanted to start saving egg shells,
so I taught the kids to put the broken shells back in the
carton instead of throwing them away.
I wanted to keep the old newspapers to
repurpose as a weed barrier and to increase my stockpile of carbon
material, so I roped Phil into putting the old papers in a basket
by his chair.
It’s these little steps that get you on your way to
composting. Before you know it, it’s just something you
do. It's these little changes that make a big difference to
your soil and your garden.
Here are a few fun tidbits to keep in mind for today’s
- If it grows, it goes. Michelle says this,
too. If the item you are considering adding to your compost pile
was once part of a plant, it goes in the compost. So, the aloe leaf
that helped treat my burn last week, will end up in the compost
pile - not in the garbage. It sure feels good to know
plant cuttings and stems can still be of use.
- Nothing green or brown leaves the property.
This saying is from Peggy Anne Montgomery (SG553). We were
talking about training helpers in the garden and this saying
teaches that plants throughout their entire lifecycle have a role
to play in the garden.
- Speaking of green and brown, the ingredients for composting can
be classified into two different color categories – green
and brown materials. Green material is usually of a
high moisture content and is rich in nitrogen. Green
materials include any grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps
or peelings, coffee grounds, tea bags, feathers, and egg shells.
Brown material acts as your dry material and is
rich in carbon. brown material includes dried leaves,
newspaper, wood chips, shredded paper, stray and haw, sawdust,
cardboard, kitchen and toilet roll tubes - and money. In
fact, many tons of old US paper money - called dirty money by the
Federal Reserve Bank - is mulched into compost every
We’re talking compost today - how to make your
own black gold - with the woman behind the
Confessions of a Composter blog -
Here’s Composting Solutions: Cleaner, Faster Methods
to Redefine Rotten with Michelle Balz.
I hope today’s show gave you an extra nudge
to begin composting - whether you start with small steps like I did
(recycling coffee grounds, newspaper, and egg shells) or by setting
aside a small area in your 2018 garden and going for it! And don’t
forget you can find Michelle's book on Amazon: Composting
for a New Generation: Latest Techniques for the Bin and
- you can prime it for $18.38 - and support the
show. It’s worth every penny!
For my Signoff today, I leave you with this thought to help
There is a science to composting - but it’s
not rocket science. Anyone can do it. So
jump the biggest hurdle to composting and just. get.
started. Relish having control. You
get to chose what goes into your compost (no mystery more
ingredients!) and you get to reap the rewards -
quality, homegrown compost. There’s no better investment for
Have a great week everyone!