Solid Waste Division

Global Menu

Solid Waste Division

Division Manager: Margo Gillaspy

Compost, it grows on you!

"If I wanted to have a happy garden, I must ally myself with my soil; study and help it to the utmost, untiringly. Always, the soil must come first."
Marion Cran, If I Were Beginning Again

Composting is nature’s way of recycling. In your hands, it is dark and crumbly. Near your nose, it is sweetly aromatic. It is the basis for the Earth’s creation of soil. Whenever a plant or animal dies, its remains decay with the help of soil microorganisms and larger soil critters and are eventually reduced to an earth like substance. Composting plays a huge role in the garden:

• Compost builds good soil structure
• Compost helps dry soil to hold moisture
• Compost stops erosion
• Compost suppresses weeds
• Compost improves aeration
• Compost neutralizes toxins in the soil
• Compost helps to release nutrients in forms plants can use, when they need them most

Learning the Language of the Soil Food Web

"If a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life: worms, fungi, microorganisms of all kinds …given only the health of the soil, nothing that dies is dead for very long."
- Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America (1977)

We are in a life-dependent exchange with the soil under our feet, whether we like it or not. We depend on healthy soil to support plant life, the source of our food and oxygen. Soil is a complex living system. Plants require basic raw materials like minerals and sugars to be healthy. So do we. Soil creatures like beetles, bacteria, fungi, and worms are busy creating conditions that allow plants and people to absorb these nutrients. The decomposition of waste from leaves, dead insects, manure and food scraps returns important materials to the soil. The life cycle permits nutrients to flow from soil to plant and moves forward only with the help of the microorganisms and other creatures that make up the soil community. Soil critters maintain the fertility of the soil. Getting to know these “friends” can be fun! Befriend the garden bug and you are set to inherit good earth.

Home Composting
Compost builds good soil structure. It is also a giant step towards recycling wastes, conserving precious energy reserves, and regaining control of our food supplies. Why throw feed peelings and yard clippings into the garbage when you can harvest their nutrients by turning them into soil enriching compost? Learn the best method for your backyard.

Home Composting 101 Workshops
Take a home composting workshop offered by Skagit County Public Works, Solid Waste Division! Workshops happen several times each season, taught by Callie Martin, Waste Reduction/Recycling Education Specialist for the Solid Waste Division for Skagit County. She is a lifelong practitioner of healthy soils and organic gardening. With a background in Modern & Classical Languages and Environmental Education from Western Washington University, Callie teaches workshops with a history of varied teaching experiences- some of those abroad. She brings lots of enthusiasm to her work as a compost educator.

Vermicomposting 101
Learn how easy it is to compost your food scraps by harnessing the work of worms in an upcoming vermicomposting workshop. Class participants will learn the basics of worm bin design, care, and feeding. Those interested can purchase supplies on a materials list and build their own indoor worm bin as part of the class.

Natural Lawn Care
Yards are fun, beautiful, great spaces for relaxing. However, in taking care of them, we often use water inefficiently, produce a lot of waste, and overuse chemicals that are bad for the environment and our families' health. By working with nature in your yard, you can have a great looking landscape that is easier to care for and healthier for families, pets, wildlife and our great Northwest environment.

Where to find compost for your garden

You can purchase high-quality, made-in-the-Skagit-Valley compost from several local sources:

  • Skagit Soils, 13260 Ball Road, Mt. Vernon. 424-0199. $17/yard, load your own; $19.50/yard delivered, minimum 10 yards.
  • Dykstra Farms, 19111 Gear Road, Burlington. 757-6376. $30/yard loaded on your pickup.
  • Town of LaConner Wastewater Facilities, 12154 Chilberg Road, LaConner. Load your own for free any time you want; $5 - $13/yard loaded by a tractor .
  • Sun Land Bark and Topsoils, 12469 Reservation Road, Anacortes. 293-7188. $33.25/yard,
    Cedar Grove compost; $30/yard, chicken compost; $30.50/yard nutria-mulch mix of animal and wood compost. Can deliver.
  • Daizen Farms, 17636 State Route 20 W., Burlington. $4.50/25-lb. bag 100% chicken manure organic dry compost.
  • Worm Wranglers of Skagit County, 13913 Avon Allen Road, Mount Vernon. (360) 424-8006. Sell vermicompost and red wriggler composting worms; $20/lb.