How to Compost
Composting is the traditional method of recycling waste and is a fun activity that you can do with the kids.
Why composting? Well, firstly composting introduces beneficial organisms to the soil. It’s good for the environment, cheap and easy to make, and reduces waste. Talk about a win-win-win-win situation!
Beyond the awesome benefits composting has for the environment, it’s also a cost-effective way for building up your garden. Most importantly, when you compost you reduce your impact on the earth by sending less waste into landfills.
So, are you convinced?
Are you ready?
We sure are!
Let’s get composting!
You will need:
Step 1: Choose a spot to locate your compost bin/worm farm
Choose a sunny position for your compost so that it has as much heat as possible and ensure it is easily accessible for adding ingredients and regular mixing.
Step 2: Get your compost mix right
Start your compost bin by laying the ingredients directly on the ground of your compost bin, starting with chunky material like small branches or woody stems on the bottom for good airflow. Every time you add green materials like kitchen waste and grass clippings, add some brown materials like shredded newspaper, wood chips and dry leaves to keep a good moisture balance and create air pockets. A low-maintenance compost pile should have a combination of brown and green ingredients, plus some moisture to keep the good bacteria churning.
Step 3: Give your compost some love
A little bit of love can go a huge way when taking care of your compost. Add ingredients to the pile regularly and turn the pile every week or two to make sure that all of the materials are mixed together. Once mixed, make sure to test the moisture.
Too much will leave you with a mushy mess while too little moisture can slow the decomposition process. When the compost is too hot it can also kill the beneficial bacteria and insects within the compost that help break it down, and in extreme and very rare cases can overheat and combust. This is all avoidable by making sure to turn the compost often and maintain its moisture.
What can you put in a compost?
Shredded paper (avoid glossy paper and coloured inks)
Sawdust (scatter or mix into the compost)
Newspaper (avoid glossy paper and coloured inks)
Lawn & garden weeds (only use weeds which have not gone to seed)
Green comfrey leaves
Garden plants (disease-free plants only)
Fruit & vegetable scraps
Eggshells (best when crushed)
Corn cobs & stalks (best if chopped up)
What should NOT go in a compost?
Meat, bones, fish scraps
Seeding weeds & diseased plants
Personal hygiene products
Black walnuts & black walnut leaves
How long does composting take?
The amount of time it takes to decompose depends on factors such as temperature, moisture and pile composition. With composting bins, they are hard to turn and mix around so the decomposition time frame is longer and can take up to several months to produce compost. The more you turn the compost mix, the faster it will decompose. It is recommended to turn your compost once or twice a fortnight if you can for the best results. Tip: Make sure you break up the bigger materials into smaller pieces to help them break down faster and keep the air flowing. As a rule of thumb, try not to add anything bigger than your fingers.
How can I use my compost?
Mix it into your garden or sprinkle it on top, this acts as a natural fertilizer to nurture your soil and plants. Adding it into your garden a couple of times a year will produce the best results.
How do you reduce unpleasant odors?
To reduce or eliminate odors avoid putting bones or meat scraps into the compost, cover new ingredients with dry grass clippings or mulch. If the compost smells like ammonia add materials like straw, peat moss, or dried leaves.
How do you get rid of flying insects around your compost?
Flies and fruit flies will naturally be attracted to the compost pile due to the decomposition process. Discourage them by covering fruit and vegetables with dry grass clippings or mulch and try adding lime to the compost pile to neutralize the smell. Tip: Keep a small pile of grass clippings handy so when you go to add new kitchen waste to the pile you can cover it straight away.