By Robin Sowton
Perhaps you've just started composting. You're dumping leaves and grass clippings into a corner of the yard regularly, but you just haven't got into recycling the kitchen scraps. After all it can be annoying to have banana peels, coffee grains or vegetable trimmings sitting out until it is convenient to take them outside.
And yet vegetable trimmings can accelerate compost breakdown and add valuable nutrients that your plants will appreciate later. For example, banana peels add potassium, egg shells add calcium, and coffee grinds can improve acidity (which can be especially helpful for acid-loving plants that find themselves in our North Texas alkaline clay soil).
One convenient way to save kitchen trimmings is to use a compost pail. Keep it in a corner of your kitchen and dump scraps into it periodically; then take it out to the compost pile when it's convenient.
Most compost pails have a small carbon filter pad under their lids, ensuring that if you forget to empty the pail over a few days, there isn't any smell. A carbon filter pad will usually last a very long time, but you can always find them online or at a pond supply place for just a few dollars (and it's easy just to trim one with scissors to fit inside the compost pail's lid).