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Composting is the perfect way to reduce your food waste while creating an all natural alternative to chemical fertiliser.

Home composting is one of the easiest ways you can minimise your impact on the environment by reducing your household food waste.

Once your compost has matured, you can use it as mulch to lock in moisture or mix with soil to help plants thrive or as a lawn top dressing for thicker, healthier grass. Compost is a convenient and cost-effective way to create your own fertiliser and improve your garden, all while reducing your impact on the environment.

Many types of food and kitchen scraps can be composted at home

What is compost?

  • Your DIY herb garden doesn’t actually need to be outdoors, herbs will happily prosper indoors if given enough sun. For apartments without backyards, herbs will thrive on a windowsill in the kitchen. Herbs will also flourish in pots, wooden boxes or garden bed in the backyard, just be sure to check it has adequate drainage and sunlight.

    Almost any plant matter can be safely composted – just remember, nothing animal based should be composted! And no pet’s poop, while it may be ‘organic’, it can transmit harmful parasites.

    Ideally, compost should be four parts ‘brown’ matter and one part ‘green’ materials:

    • Brown materials are dry or woody plant material. Usually, they are brown in colour or naturally turn brown. For example leaves, corn stalks or paper
    • Green materials include fresh items such as eggshells, fruit and vegetable scarps or coffee grounds and tea bags

Here are three easy methods of composting to get you started. If you’re unsure where to start, talk to your local garden centre about what method will work best for you.

The original method

  • A tried and tested technique, the original method assigns a designated area for a compost pit and layer brown, then green materials, followed by soil.
  • In the first three weeks, remember to turn the pile every two to three days before moving to monthly turning. Layers should be continued until you have a 1.5 metre pile that is mature and ready for use.

Worm composting helps you dispose of organic waste while giving the worms a happy home

Worm composting

  • Providing the most fertile soil improver of the methods, worm composting calls for a certain kind of worm, red wiggler earthworms or redworms. Worms can be found in mature compost heaps or bought from a store.
  • Using a box, plastic bin or crate to house your worms, ensure the compost has adequate drainage and a temperature of 13-25°c. Keeping each feed (what you add to the compost) at about 3.5L is the ideal portion size will help avoid overfeeding the worms.
  • Click here for information on setting up your own worm farm at home.

Indoor alternative

  • If you live in an apartment or have limited space, then an indoor compost bin could be the perfect option.
  • Much smaller and faster to compost than outdoor bins, saving your food scraps in a sealed container will ensure adequate moisture, heat retention and airflow to encourage decomposition. This indoor alternative usually takes from two to three months before being garden ready.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of State Custodians.

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