Composting is an excellent way to make use of kitchen scraps and create your own nutrient-rich soil. But there are challenges in composting for people who live in apartments or have very limited yard space. And then there is winter, of course, when keeping a compost pile hot to facilitate the decomposition process can be next to impossible.
But there is a simple way for you to take advantage of the nutrients that go to waste in your kitchen vegetable leftovers and provide your plants with key nutrients that they need to thrive.
Welcome to blender composting.
Blender composting is the process of blending kitchen waste such as vegetable scraps with water to create a liquid juice that you can pour directly into the soil around plants. Blending kickstarts the decomposition process by shredding the vegetable scraps into tiny particles and the liquid is able to immediately begin leaching vital nutrients into the soil.
Waste Not – Want Not
I ran across this technique a few years ago by accident. My wife likes for me to make veggie smoothies for her that have spinach, celery, cucumbers, lemons and grapefruit in them. I’m left with a pile of cucumber peelings and other scraps after preparing her drink. That got me to thinking… why not just blend those up too?
At first, I was blending the scraps with water and pouring them into my compost bin. This is a great approach because you are drastically accelerating the decomposition process of your nitrogen-rich material by shredding them into tiny particles in the blender. You can literally reduce the decomposition of an apple for example, from weeks to days.
I later began experimenting with pouring the special sauce directly into the soil around plants and a small lemon tree. My neighbor had been having problems with lemons falling off of her tree prematurely and I was wanting to provide all of the nutrients that I could for mine to prevent having the same problem.
I later learned that this is also a popular technique for vermicomposters who put small trays of blended scraps under the surface of their worm compost bins. It provides a broken-down food source for the worms and speeds the composting process.
But don’t just take my word for this. Let’s look at what the professionals have to say.
More Than Just A Fad: Science Backs Blender Composting
I tend to study academic papers when I’m looking for evidence to support the wacky ideas that I find on the internet. There is so much misinformation out there and unfortunately, a lot of articles on composting are written by people who don’t actually do it. They work in a fancy office somewhere with other writers and they just do a little internet research and rehash bad ideas.
But here’s what academic professionals who study composting and plant nutrition have to say about this approach.
New Mexico State University’s Department of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences recommends blending kitchen waste to minimize particle size during the winter to facilitate the decomposition process that is often hampered by cold weather (source).
The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences points out that blending up your greens prior to putting them in your pile offers a way to infuse finer texture organic material into the compost (source). This university’s cooperative extension in Maricopa County also points out blending as a method for reducing the particle size to speed up the process in vermicomposting (source) which seems smart considering worms can only intake very small particles at a time.
Blender Composting Is Gaining In Popularity
We have to be careful following fads since most of them are not grounded in science. As I’ve demonstrated, however, there is academic evidence and support for this technique. With that established, its okay that blender composting is becoming more popular. It’s great for apartment dwellers who want to make use of veggie leftovers but don’t have the ability to build a full-blown compost bin. It’s also a great way to accelerate the decomposition process by starting off with smaller nitrogen-rich material.
This video clip from a news station shows the news team demonstrating this process (they refer to it as compost smoothies). You’ll see that they had challenges in getting the mixture to blend. They did not include enough water in the beginning. That’s an essential part and I’ll explain it in detail below.
How To Start Blender Composting Step By Step
The simplest solutions are often the most overlooked. You honestly can’t get much simpler than blending up your food scraps as a way to make the nutrients in your kitchen waste immediately available for plants or to speed up the composting process of your pile. Here’s a walkthrough of exactly how this is done.
Step 1 – Save Your Scraps!
Start collecting leftovers into one-gallon zip locks or a small 2-gallon container with an air-tight lid like this one that you can keep in your freezer. This will allow you to store up plenty of waste until you are ready to blend. Of course, you can do this on a day to day basis without freezing but I find that the best use of my time is to save up through the week and then blend everything on a Saturday morning.
What Can I Blend For Compost? The general rules of composting apply here. No meat or dairy but all of your vegetable scraps and even eggs are fair game. Avoid large seeds like avocado seeds as they can damage your blender blade.
Step 2 – Insert Scraps And Add Water
When people say that they have tried blender composting and it was just too frustrating or hard, I can almost guarantee that the failure was a lack of sufficient water. You should be able to add a good 1/4 of water to the overall size of the blender’s container. It can be added first or after you put the scraps in but if you don’t add enough water you will end up with a mush like the news reporters on the video. You are wanting more of a liquid soup consistency.
Just remember this, you really can’t have too much water. The more you have, the better the mixture will blend. In the end, it’s all going into the soil anyway. So toss in your veggie leftovers, your eggshells if you want, and a liberal amount of H20.
Step 3 – Blend Until It’s Drinkable… But Don’t Drink It
The finer you break down those chunks of nutrient-rich particles, the faster your plants or compost pile can go to work using them. What you are looking for is a mixture that would be more suited to a spoon than a fork. In other words, a drinkable texture. It won’t be a pure liquid of course, but it should pour from the container, not have to be spooned out.
If the consistency is too thick, simply remove some to make room and add more water. Mix a little more and get the consistency right. Once you have done this a couple of times you’ll know exactly how much water is needed for your particular blender’s size.
Step 4 – Pour On The Nutrient Goodness!
With your mixture properly blended, you can now pour it directly into the soil around plants, into your compost pile, or in a buried container in your worm bin. I like to throw a little dirt on after I pour to prevent pests but to be honest, I’ve never had pest issues related to my kitchen waste recycling efforts even though I routinely bury kitchen scraps all over my yard.
I really like simple solutions and blender composting is one of the easiest ways to take advantage of the nutritional benefit of kitchen waste for your plants, garden, or compost pile. Just as you can accelerate the decomposition of carbon material by tearing it into small pieces, you can boost the availability of nutrients from these nitrogen-rich vegetable leftovers in a matter of seconds by running them through the blender with a good amount of water mixed in.
If you would like to really understand the science behind composting, be sure to read How Compost Is Made: The Definitive Guide.
And check out our complete list of composting articles for great ideas and simple solutions to creating your own nutrient-rich soil using organic material.