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By Heidi Terry-Litchfield - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Heidi Miller, landscape director with the Grundy County Board shows Judy Farmer, Saratoga Tower resident the compost bin the Board donated to the residents. (Herald Photo by Heidi Terry-Litchfield)

Before Judy Farmer moved to Saratoga Tower, she had a compost bin in her yard.

As a self-described "greenie," Farmer said she hoped to bring the wonderful way to recycle to her new home.

“I've been accused of recycling everything,” she said.

She said she currently gives her paper to one resident who recycles at church, she gives her aluminum to another resident for the garden, and she recycles plastic, as well.

She loves to watch things grow and, after moving into Saratoga Tower in September, she re-potted the plants in the entry way and has watched them flourish as they gained room for their roots to grow.

She said she wanted a compost bin so she'd have safe fertilizer for the memorial rose garden she plans to plant next to the patio. Two rose bushes planted in memory of her husband and son will start it off.

“Others who want to buy a rose can, and I'll plant them there, also,” Farmer said.

She said her home in Coal City had a pile of branches that had come down from the trees and she left them there as a habitat for squirrels.

“I'd been composting for years and I left the lid loose and the squirrels got in and got some melon seeds from the compost bin,” she said. “I had melons growing from the trees and they were the best tasting melons I've ever had.”

Heidi Miller, the land use director for Grundy County, brought a donated compost bin to Farmer for the residents to use.

“We are selling compost bins this spring to get rid of browns and greens that go in the garbage,” Miller said.

She said people brown bag leaves and throw away food, both of which fill landfills, even though they go to different ones.

“Food makes up 13 percent of what goes to the landfill,” Miller said. “Composting is extremely beneficial.”

Besides keeping things from landfills, Farmer said, composting is beneficial because gardens that are fertilized with compost, rather than chemicals, produce much-tastier food.

To start a compost bin, Miller said, you can add a few leaves to the bottom and then, from there, you add fruit and vegetable scraps to it.

“Don't add too much grass,” Miller said. “If it gets too hot, it will get mold and fungus.”

The leaves and scraps can be added to it year around, with turning to keep the temperature right needed in warmer weather.

“You can't put meat in there,” Farmer said. “But egg shells and coffee grounds are great.”

Miller said the rule is not to add any proteins to the bin.

Miller said the bin is relatively odorless, but at times may emit an earthy smell, so it's best it be kept away from the home. She suggests along the lot line or near the garden.

She also said that, if a bin is placed near the garden, rain helps to wash some of the nutrients into the garden.

The bin sold by the county has screws that hold it into the ground and the top screws on to make the compost inaccessible to animals.

The Grundy County Office of Solid Waste Management offers the Earth Machine Compost Bins to residents for $45 each.