Home composting is a great way to recycle some of your household and garden waste. Practically anything that has lived at some stage can go into compost. This includes lawn clippings, garden weeds and kitchen scraps. You can also include animal/pet’s manure. These are all rich in nitrogen and carbon which can be broken down relatively quickly.
The key to making good compost is getting the balance right between the carbon content and the nitrogen content. At least two thirds of the mix should consist of material high in carbon like dry leaves, bark, sawdust, shredded paper, wood ash, egg cartons (pulp) and dry grass. Materials high in nitrogen include weeds, pruning, cut flowers, vegetable scraps, fruit peelings, pet manure and freshly cut lawn. Oxygen exposure is critical to the process. The final product is moist and has a fibrous texture. It’s dark in colour and smell earthy – ready to enrich your garden soil for planting.
What you need to know:
- There are various sizes available
- Add water to moisten but not too much
- Don’t compact the mix because you want oxygen to be available to the bacteria and fungi which break down the material into humus.
- To enable heat to build up, aim to achieve a mass of about 1 cubic metre at the end of the process.
- Cover the heap to keep off the flies
- Depending on the size, composting can take between six to twelve months if just left alone. Breaking material down into smaller pieces and regular turning with a garden fork will reduce the process down to three to four weeks
- The following items can’t be composted: large tree branches, bones, fish, meat, fats and oils, dairy products, plants with bulbs, plastic, metals and glass
- Homeowners with limited space may opt for the fermentation process which uses beneficial microbes to ferment organic waste, rather than compost it. It is a centuries -old Japanese method called Bokashi. The end result is a fermented (or pickled) mass of waste that can go straight into the soil. There’s no need to compost the material, and it doesn’t smell. The bucket is small enough to be placed under the sink.