If you’ve recently purchased a FoodCycler, you’re probably really, REALLY excited. We don’t blame you! If you want to maximize the use of your new countertop composter, read this article to ensure that your soil amendment is the best it can be for your garden.
Note: We use the term “countertop composter” or “electric composter” to describe an indoor food recycler machine. To learn more about what this product actually is, and how it works, check out Electric Composters: What Are They and How Do They Work?
What Do I Add To My Electric Composter To Make Great Fertilizer?
Probably the most important thing we can say is make sure the foods you are adding to your cycle are low in sodium. Foods that are high in sodium will retain that sodium during and after the cycle. If plant roots are subjected to sodium, this will affect their ability to absorb key nutrients, stunt their growth and arrest cell development.
The "Wholer" the Better
Whole foods - fruits, vegetables, unprocessed meats and “pure” waste items (like eggshells or coffee grinds), are your best bet for making a beautiful soil amendment. That’s because these products don’t have unhealthy additives added to them - they come out of the ground and go to your plate. End of!
Organic, Preferably Because pesticides do not “burn off” from temperatures below 100 degrees Celsius (and for quite an extended period of time), your electric composter will not remove the traces of pesticides on your produce.
To avoid having pesticides in your soil amendment, you’d be better off avoiding them to begin with. Buying organic is a little more expensive, but it pays off dividends to your health and the health of your garden. Another option would be to soak your produce in a vinegar solution to wick away all traces of pesticides before cooking your produce. That will make it safe to eat, and safe to add to your electric composter!
There are some foods (and even household products) that make excellent fertilizing material for your garden.
Coffee Grinds (add nitrogen)
Fish Bones (add phosphorus)
Banana Peels (add potassium)
Egg Shells (add calcium)
Seaweed (adds nitrogen, potassium, phosphate & magnesium) Tea Leaves (adds oxygen, acidity & improves soil quality)
Adding any of these items will really increase the availability of these isolated macro and micronutrients in your homemade soil amendment and give your plants exactly what they need to thrive.
How Do I Store My Electric Composter Soil Amendment?
Storage actually plays an important part in how valuable your soil amendment is once you decide to fertilize your garden. Your homemade soil amendment needs a period of at least one week to “settle”. Once it comes out of the unit, it may still have some heat and moisture contained in the fibers. Storing your “foodilizer” for a period of one week in an open-air container will help the material stabilize completely.
PRO-TIP: For an added boost to your homemade fertilizer, you can use the food recycler’s expired carbon (in the carbon filters) as an additive to your soil amendment. The carbon filters are filled with activated carbon, which is an amazing soil conditioner! Mix in the carbon powder with your soil amendment!
After this one week, you can close up the fertilizer with a lidded container and store it in a cool, dry place. The most important thing when storing your soil amendment is to keep it absolutely dry. If it gets wet, it will continue the decomposition process in an anaerobic environment which will smell bad, generate methane and invite pests. Your garden will also not get the benefit of that naturally decomposing biomatter!
How To Use Your Soil Amendment In the Garden:
Now, your homemade fertilizer made with an electric composter is extremely nutrient-rich, so a little goes a long way.
Note: This next part isn’t mandatory if you want to "add-as-you-go" with your finished soil amendment, but giving the soil a 4-week regenerative period is the absolute best way to use your electric composter soil amendment in the garden.
To help the soil absorb the nutrients present in your amendment: Mix the soil amendment in with your garden soil 4 weeks prior to planting seeds. This will allow bacteria to regenerate in the fertilizer and the biomatter to nourish your earth, similarly to the traditional composting process.
To keep a healthy ratio of nutrients to soil: To avoid nutrient-glut or the high nitrogen rating in the soil amendment’s NPK from burning your plants, mix in your soil amendment at a ratio of 10 parts soil to one part fertilizer. Anything more than this might hurt your plants!
The Ideal Electric Composter Timeline for Good GREAT Fertilizer
The healthier your food waste and scraps, the healthier your garden!
Let the by-product sit for a period of one week in an open air container
Mix in with your soil at a ratio of 1 part fertilizer to 10 parts soil