If you like the idea of reducing your environmental impact while also improving the quality of your soil, composting is for you!
Composting at home is a great way to deal with your kitchen and garden waste. Its also a lot easier than you think! We've put together a simple guide to help you get started.
What is compost?
Compost is an organic matter that has been broken down. If you put your organic waste into landfill, it undergoes anaerobic decomposition and releases methane, which is a harmful greenhouse gas when letting loose in the atmosphere.
But in your compost bin, organic matter decomposes aerobically (with oxygen). This process does not produce methane. What it does provide is an excellent soil conditioner that you can use in your garden.
What can you compost?
You can compost any organic matter. As a general guide, start with the below:
- Bread crusts
- Coffee grounds
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
What can't you compost?
If you are composting in the backyard you should avoid using the below to deter pests and keep your garden in great shape:
- Pet Manures - as they are likely to attract rodents and cause foul odours. It's also not safe to use pet manures on any part of your garden where food is grown.
- Dead Weeds - they may find their way back into your garden if not disposed of correctly.
How do I get started?
Making a compost garden can be very simple. The golden rule is to make sure you find the right ratio between carbon and nitrogen by providing the right amounts of wet and dry material.
Dry material is called 'brown waste.' It can include things like cardboard, paper, and straw as they are good sources of carbon.
Wet materials are called 'green waste' and can include grass clippings, leaves and food waste. They provide nitrogen.
Just keep in mind when making compost use two-thirds green waste and one-third brown waste to keep it at a healthy balance.
Select a composting bin
You can get creative when selecting your compost bin. For beginners, it may be easier to purchase a classic bottomless bin for your local nursery.
Pick the perfect spot
When selecting a place for your bin, it best you look for somewhere that is level, well-drained, shady and convenient to access. The container should be placed on bare soil, allowing worms to get in and do their work.
Build a base
To start, lay down a 5cm to 10cm layer of bedding material, such as straw, in the bottom on the bin. Then begin to add your food waster on top of this.
Keep it balanced
Every now and then, add some more brown waste to keep the compost balanced. Pro tip: keep a bag of pea straw near your bin to add occasionally. You could also add small pieces of cardboard, brown leaves or paper.
If your compost pile smells, it is probably got too many wet materials. Add some more brown waste, aerate, and apply lime and gypsum.
Throw in a handful of limes once per month to adjust the pH levels. It will also limit the number of compost flies, too.
Don't forget the worms!
Composting worms will end up doing most of the work for you.
Two is better than one
Your compost will take from 2 weeks to 12 months to break down if you have a second bin you can rotate use for your garden.
There you have it, all you need to do is follow these simple steps and you will have a healthy compost bin in no time!