Print Posted on 02/10/2017

Beginner’s guide to composting

Beginner’s guide to composting

Are you constantly filling up your rubbish and recycling bins with food scraps, grass clippings and newspaper while wishing you could be doing something more productive with all that household waste?

Luckily there is a simple solution – composting. By starting your own compost system in your backyard, you can move your waste away from landfill while creating a valuable resource for your garden.

Thanks to Foodwise, here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your own compost system up and running in your backyard.

What you will need:

  • A plastic compost bin from the hardware store or a homemade compost bin made of timber or chicken wire.
  • A compost turner or garden fork.

Organic ingredients that can be composted:

  • ‘Green’ organic waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, rice and pasta (small amounts only), coffee grinds, teabags, grass clippings, flowers, manure (cow, chicken or horse)
  • ‘Brown’ organic waste such as dried leaves, twigs, soil, straw, newspaper and shredded cardboard

Getting started:

  1. Find the right location for your compost bin. Position it so that you have easy access to it from your kitchen. It can be placed both in the sun or the shade; the warmer the location, the faster the compost will work.
  2. For the first layer, place your ‘brown’ organic ingredients at the bottom of the bin and water thoroughly. This will encourage the growth of bacteria which allows the compost to start breaking down.
  3. The second layer is where you place your ‘green’ organic ingredients such as grass clippings, plant scraps or other green materials so that it’s the same thickness as the first layer.
  4. For your third and fourth layers, return again to brown and then green ingredients, including materials such as shredded newspaper or straw and vegie scraps. Add water to moisten.
  5. You can now add food scraps and other green materials to the bin. Every time you empty your kitchen scrap bucket, be sure to cover with a layer of brown material to build a balanced and productive compost.
  6. Make sure to keep your compost aerated to speed up the composting process. To do this, turn it over or fluff it up every few weeks. You can do this with a garden fork or a compost turner tool.
  7. Your compost is ready when it looks like rich, dark soil. You can tilt the bin and scrape away the finished compost at the bottom, or lift off the bin and start a new pile.