How do you deal with your organic waste?
It's International Compost Awareness Week. Time to think about how we deal with our organic waste... do you compost at home? How does your workplace deal with foodscraps? Are you eligible for a Council collection?
Getting started with home composting may be easier than you think. Compost enriches your soil with nutrients and beneficial microbes, helps you grow healthier plants, and is perfect for your flower or veggie garden.
If you’re thinking about creating a home compost, you’ll want to consider:
How are you going to contain your compost?
You can buy a compost bin or barrel from your local hardware or garden store. Or, if you’re handy, they’re easy enough to make. All you need is a big barrel or wooden pallets. Whatever material you use, just make sure it has slots or drill holes to allow air to access the compost ingredients. A lid is often effective because it will trap in heat which encourages better composting (that’s why the black plastic kitsets with four walls and a lid or a rotating barrel work so well!).
Where will it be located?
Although it’s probably not going to be your favourite garden feature, you’ll want your compost pile to be easily accessible. It needs to be convenient enough that you’ll be happy to walk out and drop your food scraps in it every few days. For best results, your compost should also get natural sunshine.
Can you dig it?
Composts can be above or below ground. Or somewhere in between. Make sure your container does not have a base; your composting waste should be in contact with the earth. Use a spade or hoe to rough up the ground directly below your compost pile. Make sure your container is not going to be easily knocked or blown over by either staking it into the ground or digging the bottom edges into the ground. Put a bottom layer of sticks in your bin to promote aeration.
How will you collect organic waste and food scraps?
To make it easy to collect food scraps use a kitchen caddy (either on your benchtop or under the sink). Compostable caddy liners can be thrown straight into your compost pile too. For optimal composting you’ll want to add your compost items in layers. For example, if you have a large lawn avoid putting all your grass clippings on your compost pile in one go; try to intersperse it with food waste and dry leaves.
What ingredients will you compost at home?
Your compost should include carbon items (lawn clippings, dry leaves, twigs and cuttings) as well as nitrogen items (fruit and vegie peel, food scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds). It’s best to refrain from adding garden weeds, meat and dairy as these things will not break down well in a backyard compost without enough heat to treat them effectively. Use the rule of thumb – literally - compost contributions should be about the size of your thumb. Remember to turn your compost over periodically. It’ll take 6-8 weeks for the compost to mature; when it's dark brown, breaks apart easily and has an earthy smell, it’s good to go out on your garden.
Shop all your favourite compostable bin liners, cling wrap, and food prep products here: https://ecobags.co.nz/collections/ecopack/material_compostable?