Composting is a great way to make use of kitchen and garden scraps that would otherwise be thrown away, while also providing nutrients for your garden. Generally, when talking about composting, there are two main methods to be aware of: hot composting and cold composting.
Hot composting requires a large area of space, and as it covers more area, it attracts more microorganisms, leading to more heat. Hot composting is a fast way to compost, taking only weeks for a final product to be produced, but it requires a fair amount of garden waste to get things happening.
The alternative option is cold composting, which is designed for people who have a pretty average amount of garden waste - it's a great option for most households. This method sees the compost finished in around six to 12 months.
Today, we focus on how to start cold composting, using food scraps from your kitchen (it's such a great way to reduce the amount of food waste ending up in landfill!) and other waste materials from your home and garden.
Read on to find out how to get started with composting for your garden!
Think about where you wish to keep your compost
Before you begin composting, decide where you want to keep your compost. Many people choose to keep their compost down the back of their garden, in a box or bin. Keeping it away from housing (yours and other peoples’) is a good idea, as compost bins tend to attract an array of critters.
It’s also important to find a good spot in the kitchen to keep your scraps bin. Like under your sink or on the benchtop. We stock some gorgeous compost bins perfect for the kitchen. Be sure to take your scraps bin out regularly and give it a clean to avoid any unnecessary pongs!
Give your compost the right ingredients
Creating healthy, thriving compost is all about balance. To simplify, this balance has a lot to do with the levels of nitrogen and carbon in your compost. We generally aim for a ratio of 2-3 parts carbon, one-part nitrogen for ours. High carbon materials include bark, twigs, straw, newspaper, pine needles, and brown leaves, while high nitrogen materials include fruit and vegetable scraps, manure, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. When you put food scraps in, be sure to cut them up small to make life easier for the critters that will be processing them!
Avoid adding meat, dairy, and diseased plants
Some items just aren’t very good for your compost pile. These include meat scraps and dairy (although a small amount of dairy can be okay), any diseased plants, and weeds. Be sure to dispose of these items separately to keep them out of your compost. Also we like to avoid waste from any meat-eating animal, including cats and dogs.
Allow plenty of oxygen to get in
Just like us, compost needs oxygen. When it doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can become smelly and too wet. A nice, aerated compost allows all the lovely organisms that break down the compost waste to thrive. To aerate your compost, give it a “turn” with a shovel or pitchfork. We find that doing this once a week to once a fortnight works well. Your compost should also be kept damp (but not wet). If your scraps aren’t keeping the pile damp enough, add a small amount of water, just be sure not to soak it.
At the end of the day, your composting style is up to you. Avoid the big no-no’s, keep it as simple as possible if you’re a beginner, and you should have some great, nutritious compost for your garden within the year!
Never plant without a bucket of compost at your side. ~ Elsa Bakalar
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