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Organic trash, garden treasure

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Leaves, grass clippings and banana peels: Yard and kitchen waste is responsible for about one-third of landfill space. Instead of tossing those tough asparagus stems or the seemingly endless mounds of pine straw, consider composting. Organic material makes great mulch, which helps protect your garden from drought and adds nutrients to the soil. However, composting requires more than tossing your melon rinds in a pile. The ideal compost ratio is 25 parts "browns" to one part "greens," and you shouldn't compost dairy, meat, or certain plants such as poison ivy (obviously). Build a compost bin or buy one. Solid waste departments in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill often sell them, as do many natural food stores and garden centers. Mounds of composting info is available at compostguide.com.

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