Composting is a great way to reduce your kitchen waste and recycle it into a useful fertiliser that can enrich and nourish your soil for growing food or flowers.
Climate change and the rising cost of food means we are all being encouraged to grow our own food where possible, and to reduce kitchen waste. Composting is a way to do both and it’s easy to do, but there are a few pitfalls that can prevent your kitchen waste from turning into lovely, rich organic fertiliser.
What is compost?
Composting is a natural process that transforms organic food or garden waste into useful fertiliser. For it to happen, carbon and nitrogen must mix in a ratio of 24/1, along with water and oxygen. Carbon is a source of energy, nitrogen supplies proteins. Water and air facilitate the composting process.
Compostable material is divided into greens and browns. Greens are organic food waste and create nitrogen. Browns are carbon-rich waste like old egg cartons, old newspaper, dry leaves, dry grass, pine needles, twigs or sawdust.
How to start composting
The first thing to learn is the process and composition of compost and to understand what can and can’t be composted.
You can use any container, like an old wooden crate, to make your compost, but you will give yourself the best possible chance of turning your waste into compost by buying a composter.
Stationary composters are standing containers that are built in a way that allows air to circulate through the compost inside. Compost tumblers have a handle that allows you to turn the compost regularly without digging inside. They have a higher success rate than stationary composters. Worm composters contains garden worms who work their magic in breaking down organic waste and turn it into compost. These are great for apartments, balconies and urban settings.
Tips for composting
Keep browns on the bottom and layer over the greens. This will keep waste aerated and allow the growth of microorganisms. Microorganisms are the heroes of the compost heap and do most of the decomposition work. Stir compost regularly to ensure plenty of air gets into it. It should be ready in three to four months.
What should you compost?
Cut dry grass, leaves, coffee grounds, lettuce, potato peels, banana peels, avocado skins, old newspaper, cardboard, sawdust, eggshells, rice and pasta. You should not compost meat and dairy products, oils and fats, citrus fruits, acidic foods and pet waste.
How to use compost
Basically, compost can be added to any soil. Either inside or outside the house. Mix with soil in potted plants. Spread compost on your beds. Use as mulch to protect roots and soil in cold winter months. Add to your vegetable patch and you’ll notice the difference, your vegetables will be bigger, more robust and more delicious.
Composting is a way to utilise food waste and it helps you produce your own food, so it is immensely satisfying to do. The best thing you can do is to buy yourself a composter and just start. You won’t regret it.