By composting your food scraps instead of sending them to landfill, households can significantly reduce their Climate Change footprint. About 3% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions comes from organic matter rotting in landfills. That is about as much as the entire country’s aviation industry.
Step 1 - Choose a site
Place your compost heap or bin in a well-drained area that has some shade. Too much sun will dry out your compost.
Step 2 - What to compost
- Green Ingredients: Compost needs a mixture of nitrogen rich organic materials such as fruit and vegetable peelings, and green garden vegetation such as fresh grass clippings and green leaves.
- Brown Ingredients: Nitrogen-poor, carbon rich materials such as dry leaves, woody twigs, paper and straw.
- Some soil or completed compost to introduce composting micro-organisms
Step 3 - Layering
Start with a thick layer of coarse material (15cm), such as twigs or mulch, this is used for drainage. Then follow with a layered A,B,C system using the materials above A. Garden clippings and kitchen scraps, B. Dry leaves and paper (wet). C. Add water after each layer to keep the heap moist but not wet. Then repeat steps ABC. Finish with step D. Sprinkling soil or finished compost on top of food scraps will make a richer compost and help reduce odour.
Step - 4. Maintaining Your Compost
Keep your compost well aerated to prevent foul odour or methane. Turn your compost with a garden fork on a weekly basis. Otherwise place garden stakes or pipes through the heap to allow air in.
What to add to a Compost Heap
- Vegetable and food scraps
- Fallen leaves (in layers)
- Tea leaves and tea bags
- Coffee grounds
- Vacuum cleaner dust
- Soft stems
- Dead flowers
- Old potting mix
- Used vegetable cooking oil
- Egg shells
- Old newspapers (wet)
- Grass cuttings in layers
- Sawdust (not from teated timber)
- Wood ash
- Human and animal hair
What not to add to a Compost Heap
- Meat and dairy products
- Diseased plants
- Metals, plastic, glass
- Animal manures (especially the droppings of cats and dogs)
- Large branches
- Weeds that have seeds or underground stems
- Bread or cake (may attract mice)
- Sawdust from treated timber
Depending on the mix of ingredients the duration for the compost to turn into a rich soil can be anything from 6 weeks to 6 months.