How to compost

G Magazine

Transform your kitchen scraps and garden waste into a fabulous natural fertiliser with this guide


Credit: iStockphoto

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We're constantly reminded to do the right thing by properly recycling our plastics, glass and paper, but what about organic waste from our kitchen and garden?

Australians toss a staggering half-tonne of organic matter into landfill each year, only for it to sit around in the oxygen-starved environment where it doesn't decompose as it otherwise would.

Whether you have a spacious backyard or some pot plants on a balcony, throwing your kitchen scraps and other organic garden matter into a compost of some description instead is a great way to make sure this type of waste is not wasted.

Composting not only keeps organic matter out of landfill, but it's also great for creating a nutrient-rich, less thirsty soil.

Compost is, essentially, the decomposed remains of organic matter.

It is excellent at improving all types of soil by acting as a natural fertiliser and helping to reduce soil disease. Drainage in clay soils and water retention in sandy soils can be dramatically improved with the addition of compost.

Creating a mound of great compost is not quite as simple as tossing the scraps on a pile. To get the most out of your compost, you should avoid adding certain types of scraps and make sure the heap is appropriately contained with a good amount of water and aeration.

Getting started

While the open heap may be messy, it's a good way to compost lots of organic matter and makes turning and aerating the pile much easier.

The square, plastic and DIY assemble kits are another option and easy to use. Some city councils offer residents compost bins at subsidised prices.

If you go for the bin option, make sure it's accessible. For an outside space, position the bin on the soil and in the shade - ideally under a tree or in an easterly position - to prevent the workaholic earthworms from dying.

Types of scraps

Suitable compost ingredients include:

  • food scraps
  • tea leaves and tea bags
  • coffee grounds
  • pieces of paper and cardboard
  • leaves
  • lawn clippings
  • newspapers
  • crushed eggshells
  • prunings

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