Your simple guide to backyard composting
According to the latest Colmar Brunton research roughly half of kiwi households are now composting some of their organic and/or food waste. That’s great news. And when you consider that almost half of a typical household’s waste is organic matter that can be composted – it represents a big reduction in what’s being sent to landfill.
If you haven’t got a successful backyard compost up and running yet, now is a great time to start! Here are a few quick and easy steps to follow to get you home composting…
Build or buy a structure for containing your compost.
You can pick up a tidy and compact compost bin or barrel from your local hardware store or garden centre. Or you can build your own using an oversized plastic barrel or wooden pallets. Whatever material you use, just make sure it has slots or holes to allow air into all layers of the compost pile. The most effective composters are often enclosed (four walls and a lid or a rotating barrel) because they trap in heat (and composting happens faster at higher temperatures).
Find an appropriate spot.
You want your compost bin to be easily accessible but out-of-the-way. It needs to be convenient enough that you’ll be happy to walk out and drop your food scraps in it every few days but you don’t want it in the way of where kids play or disrupting your curb appeal. For best results, your compost should also get natural sunshine.
Dig it in.
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 slightly. Put a bottom layer of sticks in your bin to promote aeration.
Collect organic waste and food scraps.
To make it easy to collect kitchen scraps to contribute your home compost bin, keep a container under your sink or on your benchtop. Our 7L compost caddy (and compostable bin liners) are ideal for kitchen compost collection. The compostable liners can be thrown straight into your compost pile too and will break down in 90 – 180 days.
An optimum compost environment includes carbon elements, which can come from garden waste like lawn clippings, dry leaves, twigs and cuttings (avoid dense plant matter or weeds) and nitrogen elements, which can come from kitchen waste like fruit and vegie peel, food scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds (avoid meat and dairy as they can attract pests). Cut down bigger items so they break down more quickly; ty to keep your compost contributions no bigger than finger size.
Mix it up.
You want to add your compost elements in layers, with each layer being no thicker than 10cm. 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. If you remember try to toss your compost once a week or so. It’ll take 6-8 weeks for the compost to fully mature; it will eventually be a dark brown colour with an earthy smell.
Feed your garden.
Once it’s turned into nutrient-rich compost, dig it into your existing soil. Beware that compost can burn plant roots so dig it into the surrounding soil rather than planting directly into compost.