Composting is helping our fragile
environment too by reducing landfill.
Plus best of all it doesn't even have to cost
you a cent.
About 1/3 of the landfill in our rubbish tips is
made up of organic materials from our gardens
and kitchens that could be used to make compost.
We all have heaps of kitchen scraps and these
are very high in nitrogen which is useful on a
compost heap as it increases the temperature of
the compost. And, increased temperature
makes the compost process work faster.
Compost needs aerating so if you have a compost
tumbler you must ensure you rotate the contents
each time you add food scraps, so once a day is
ideal. If you have a heap of compost on
the ground or a compost container that doesn't
tumble then you will need to aerate the soil
manually. This involves digging it over or
using a compost aerator tool. Aeration is vital
because the organisms in the compost are aerobic
which means they need air in order to do their
Compost heaps generally need to be 3 or 4 sided
structures about a metre (3 feet) square. If you
choose a four sided structure then one of those
sides should be removable to allow easy access
for turning the compost and for taking it out
when it is ready.
You need to avoid too much water in the pile but
equally so, you have to ensure it doesn't dry
out. If it gets too much water it will start to
stink and if it is too dry the composting
process will slow right down.
Keep a mix of brown and green materials on your
compost heap. It is really important not
to have too much of one particular ingredient or
it will upset the whole balance. The
browns are leaves, small twigs, newspaper,
tissues and straw. They are high in
carbon-dioxide. The greens are high in nitrogen
and include fresh materials such as grass
clippings and food waste. You need far more
brown materials than green to keep your compost
The smaller we chop up our scraps and leaves
then the quicker the pile will rot down and be
Leaves, if they are large, can be shredded to
encourage them to break down faster.
It is better if grass clippings can be allowed
to spread and dry out for a couple of days
before being used on the compost pile, otherwise
in a great moist heap they can start to go sour.
Kitchen scraps can include almost everything we
eat. Exceptions are meat, dairy products
and fatty foods. Egg shells can be used but it
is preferable to crush them first.
Manure is excellent to use but do ensure it
comes from animals such as sheep, cows, pigs etc
because they are herbivores. Manure from
carnivorous animals can contain pathogens, so
don't use dog poo, cat poo or cat litter.
Seaweed is excellent but it will need to have
all its salt rinsed off before using.
Locate your compost pile over soil so that worms
and other creatures will come up from
underneath. If you live in a cold climate you
must ensure your compost pile is located in the
sun as the pile will need heat to break it down.
In hot dry areas locate the pile under a shade
tree or ensure it is situated such that water
can be applied to keep it moist enough.
If possible locate your compost pile away from
both your line of sight and your neighbours'.
Compost breaks down best when it's temperature
is between 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees
Fahrenheit) and 55 degrees Celsius (131 degrees
Fahrenheit). Outside that range the
microbes can die.
Compost is ready when it is dark brown in colour
and should smell rich and earthy.
Use and see your garden absolutely flourish!