Compost is a dark, loose and "earth" like substance that is produced through the natural breakdown of organic materials by microbes and worms.
Did you know that over half of the domestic waste going to landfill is compostable? Backyard composting of certain food scraps and yard trimmings can significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. It returns your organic wastes to the soil and creates a healthy environment for your plants. You will also be able to reduce or stop the use of chemical fertilisers in your garden, and this will save you money.
What can go in my compost bin?
Basically anything that was once living can be composted. This includes fruit and vegetable scraps, newspapers and paper towel, grass clippings, garden prunings, leaves, twigs, egg shells, ground coffee, tea leaves and bags, animal and human hair, vacuum cleaner dust, cotton rags, weeds, dead flowers and old potting mix.
What should not go in my compost bin?
There are a few things that can make your compost sick. These are meat, seafood and dairy products. These things don't break down easily and as a result they rot and make your compost smell. The smell will attract unwanted guests, such as mice, rats and other critters to your compost.
Where can I get a compost bin from?
There is a wide range of compost bins available from local nurseries and garden centres as well as some department stores. Compost bins are also available from the Green Living Centre located at 218 King Street, Newtown.
The bin should be placed directly on to soil to allow drainage, away from the house and in a part of the garden, which will be cool in summer and warm in winter.
You can also build your own compost enclosure. A simple compost enclosure can be made from a length of chicken wire or mesh staked into a square or circle, in direct contact with the soil. It will need to enclose an area of approximately 1.5m x 1.5m and 1m high. More elaborate, multi-compartment structures can be made of brick or timber and can be made with one side open to allow access.
How do I get started?
Composting is easy. Just follow these 6 simple steps:
- Choose whether you want a bin or a heap.
- Layer the bottom with coarse materials (from your garden-15-18 cm thick) then fine materials (from your kitchen). A 1-3 cm layer of soil should be added to aid the composting process. Repeat these steps until all materials are used up.
- Water each layer to ensure that materials are moist.
- Keep each layer 1-2 cm thick and use a variety of materials in each layer.
- Cover your heap with a carpet or Hessian to keep the moisture in, even damp newspaper will help.
- Turn every two weeks.
After about six to eight weeks the finished compost should be dark, crumbly and sweet smelling and ready to put into the garden. Mature compost can be used as fertiliser for your garden and lawn, for growing seedlings, as potting mix and as garden mulch.
Why choose a worm farm?
A 'worm farm' is a simple and highly beneficial home composting system with worms. The worms are "surface feeders" that eat your fruit and vegetable scraps turning them into a rich soil conditioner.
Composting with worms is more versatile than other composting methods as it requires less space then normal composting methods. Worm farming is ideal for indoors or outdoors, classrooms, units, small backyards and other settings in high-density urban areas within Marrickville.
What can go in my worm farm?
Basically like composting, anything that was once living can go in your worm farm. However, worms don't have like garden clippings, prunings, leaves etc.
Things that worms like include: fruit and vegetables, newspapers, egg shells, tea leaves, animal and human hair, cotton rags, weeds, dead flowers, old potting mix. They really like eating watermelon, lettuce, wet fruit and vegetable scraps.
What should not go in my worm farm?
There are a few things that can make your worm farm sick. These are garden clippings, meat, seafood and dairy products. Worms don't eat these things and they don't break down and as a result they rot and make your worm farm smell. The smell will attract unwanted guests, such as mice, rats and other critters to your worm farm.
Where can I get a worm farm from?
Worm farms are available from local nurseries and garden centres as well as some department stores.
Worm farms are also available from the Green Living Centre located at 218 King Street, Newtown. For open hours and contact details .
You can also construct your own worm farm using a foam box that has a lid which holes can be poked into.
How do I get started?
Looking after a worm farm is simple, but needs to be done regularly to keep your worms fed and happy. An information booklet will be supplied with your worm farm, and if you follow these instructions your worms will have a long and happy life.
Green Living Centre
Located at 218 King Street, Newtown, the Green Living Centre provides workshops on composting and worm farming to help you get started. Please contact them on 9519 6366 for more information.
For more information on composting and worm farming visit Easy Guides.