Can You Put Moldy Bread In Compost?
If you have ever had a loaf of stale bread lying around, then you are familiar with the problem of mold growing on it. If left alone, mold will grow rapidly over time until all that remains is a dark brown substance.
Mold grows best when moisture is present, so if your bread is sitting out in the open where it’s exposed to air, then chances are that mold will eventually get there first. Even if you don’t mind eating moldy bread, but still want to avoid having it in your house or yard, then you need to make sure that the mold isn’t going into your food.
The easiest way to do this is to simply place the bread in a baggie and seal it up. Then just throw away the baggies! However, if you really want to prevent mold from growing on your bread, then you might consider using a simple method called “composting.”
Composting means taking organic matter (such as leaves) and turning them into soil. The process itself is really easy and only requires a few items (listed below).
A 5-gallon bucket with a lid
Carbon material (i.e. dead leaves, newspaper, etc.)
A pitchfork (or similar tool for mixing)
Step 1: Place two to three layers of carbon material at the bottom of the bucket.
Step 2: Add the moldy bread on top of the carbon material.
Step 3: Continue layering carbon material and bread until the bucket is full. Do not worry about packing it down, as the mold will prevent it from going airborne. Alternatively, you can pack it down if you want to use the compost in your garden.
Step 4: Cover the bucket (optional). If you live in an area with a lot of rain, then it is better to cover the bucket to prevent excess water from getting in. You will need to turn the bucket regularly (as described below), so it’s best to do this on a dry day.
Step 5: Wait. It takes about three to four months for the mixture to transform from bread and leaves to soil. However, you can use it sooner if you want to.
Step 6: Turn the mixture. Take off the lid of the bucket and use the pitchfork to stir the contents from bottom to top. You will notice that the bottom is very dense and wet while the top is still loose and dark brown. Stir it until it is uniformly mixed, then replace the lid.
There you have it! You should now have nice soil that’s perfect for your plants or flowers. You can use this as fertilizer by simply sprinkling it around the base of the plant, or you can place several spoonfuls in a hole in sandy soil and plant your root vegetables such as carrots or potatoes in it.
You may need to add more bread to the bucket if you want to keep the mixture going. However, make sure that the bread is not moldy. To keep the bucket at the perfect temperature, you can add hay to the bottom of it. Alternatively, you can simply place it in an area that is protected from the elements and won’t get hot (such as a garage).
In addition, you can place a tarp under it to catch any runoff.
As far as what kind of bread to use, you can use whatever you want. I have used both white bread and whole grain bread without any problems. However, the mold seems to grow better on softer breads.
You may also want to add a cup of compost or dirt from outdoors every once in awhile to provide extra nutrients to the mix.
Remember to be safe when working with the bucket. The molds can cause minor allergic reactions, so you may want to wear gloves when handling it.
The bread mold is great because it grows naturally and requires little maintenance. However, there are other types of molds that you can use in case the bucket method doesn’t work for you.
If you just want to try out growing mold without doing the bucket method, you can simply use sawdust or dead leaves and place them in a tray. Whichever type of mold you want to grow, you should cover it with several layers of newspaper and then place the tray in a location that gets plenty of sunlight. Check on it every few days to see if it’s ready for use.
This method is not as effective as the bucket method, but it still produces enough soil to use in your garden. You can also use the mold inside the trays to directly apply it to your garden beds and around the base of plants.
When using the mold, you can break it up and use it as is. However, if you want it in a more manageable form, you can add a bit of compost or dirt from your yard to it and let it sit for a day or two. Then you can apply it at the base of plants or around flowers.
Harvesting and Using Compost and Manure
While we’re on the topic of gardening, now is probably a good time to talk about how to make the most of your garden. There are several ways you can do this. The first is by using time-honored methods that have been used for generations. The second is by using more modern techniques.
You can use a combination of both, or focus on one particular method. It’s all up to you, and your personal preference.
If you decide to go with the time-honored method, the first thing you should do is make sure your garden gets plenty of sunlight. After that, you will need to turn your garden at least once a year, and add something called “green manure.” Green manure is simply plants that have been plowed under and provide nutrients for the soil. Hay is a common one.
You can also add animal manure, but you need to be careful with that. It can easily over-fertilize your garden or even introduce weed seeds to it. Using human waste is a good way to go since it’s free and does not have weed seeds in it. However, you need to age it for 6 months to a year before using it, otherwise it can actually do more harm than good.
You can do a quick search online to find out more about these methods, or simply ask your grandparents or parents. They may know or be able to look it up for you. One thing you need to make sure of is that whatever you put in the garden needs to be well broken down and not too “hot.” This means it needs to be in a state that is easy for plants to take in the nutrients from.
This is done by aging or partially rotting the material first.
In addition to turning your garden and adding green manure or animal manure, it is beneficial to add a layer of wood chips or chopped up branches around the outside edges of your garden. Not only does this help prevent weeds from growing, but it also helps the soil retain moisture and keeps the ground cooler.
One more method worth mentioning is the 3-V method. This stands for vegetation, urine, and feces. This is a very old school method of gardening that can be very effective.
With this method, when you have green vegetation, urine, or animal feces available you spread it on your garden. You then plant your seeds or place your seedlings. After plants are grown, you allow them to wilt a bit in the sun before watering them again. This allows some of their nutrients to flow into the soil where they can be used by future plants.
Of course, these are just a few suggestions. You can find more online, or even talk to people in your town that garden to learn what has worked for them. The idea is to get creative and have fun with it!
Purchasing Compost and Manure
While many people like to make their own compost and animal manure, this isn’t always possible for everyone. Luckily, both of these items are very affordable and easily available at most garden centers or big box stores.
The one thing you want to look for when purchasing bagged compost or bagged manure is that it has been screened. This means the material has been mixed and some fine material (like sawdust) has been added to help speed up the decomposition process. You do not want to buy just plain manure or just plain compost since it will take much longer to break down.
Some gardeners also have the mistaken idea that bagged material has been treated with chemicals. While this can be true, if you buy from a reputable dealer, this is not something you need to worry about. The reason some bagged material has been treated is because it is much cheaper to do so. These dealers tend to be shady at best and will cut many corners to save a few cents.
It is for this reason you should always buy your materials from a reputable dealer, just as you would do when buying food.
Once you’ve purchased your materials, you need to find a place to store it until you’re ready to use it. It’s important that the storage area has good airflow and isn’t excessively wet or dry. If the material is stored in an extremely damp area, it can begin to smell very bad and can attract insects or rodents. If it’s stored in an extremely dry area, the material can catch fire much easier than it should.
Also, storing it in these types of areas can lead to the leaching of chemicals from the bag or container it’s stored in, which isn’t good for the soil either.
The best place to store your bagged materials is in an old shed or garage that isn’t used often. If neither of these places are available, make sure you’re using a plastic garbage can or something similar that has good airflow and nothing oozing out of the walls (if it’s a wooden structure).
If you don’t already have one, now might be a good time to build a simple compost bin. Even a very simple three-sided wooden frame with a hinged top will serve your needs.
Sources & references used in this article:
Slow-release nitrogen from composts: The bulking agent is more than just fluff by DM Sullivan, SC Fransen, AI Bary… – Beneficial Co-Utilization of …, 1998 – Springer
Feasibility study on the application of rhizosphere microflora of rice for the biohydrogen production from wasted bread by T Doi, H Matsumoto, J Abe, S Morita – International Journal of Hydrogen …, 2009 – Elsevier
Productive Summer-Man Cans 700 Quarts of Tomatoes; Ex-Hippie Makes Hay, Bakes Bread, Weaves and Composts by A Whitley – 2009 – Andrews McMeel Publishing
Food waste composting: institutional and industrial applications by B Pleasant, DL Martin – 2008 – Storey Publishing
EFFECT OF BREAD YEAST APPLICATION AND SEAWEED EXTRACT ON CUCUMBER (Cucumis sativus L.) PLANT GROWTH, YIELD AND FRUIT QUALITY. by M Loomis – Green Revolution, 1967 – research.library.kutztown.edu
Compost politics: experimenting with togetherness in vermicomposting by LM Risse, B Faucette – 2009 – esploro.libs.uga.edu
Characterization of variability and relationships among components of partial resistance to leaf rust in CIMMYT bread wheats by TZ Sarhan – Mesopotamia Journal of Agriculture, 2011 – magrj.mosuljournals.com
Slug Bread and Beheaded Thistles: Amusing & Useful Techniques for Nontoxic Housekeeping and Gardening by S Abrahamsson, F Bertoni – Environmental Humanities, 2014 – read.dukeupress.edu