01 Jun Composting Tips
Here are some basic things to consider when composting at home to get the best results:
Tip 1: Ingredients
You can compost a whole host of materials that would otherwise go to landfill including vegetable scraps/ peelings, lawn clippings, leaves, manures and prunings.Things to avoid in your compost include items such as meat, diseased plant materials, weed seeds and pet wastes.
Tip 2: Air
Oxygen is crucial to a good compost as it is the lifeblood of living activity. Bacteria, fungi and microorganisms need it to do their job in turning the organic matter into valuable hummus. Turning the compost allows air into the pile to aid the process of decomposition. The importance of circulating oxygen is the reason its best to avoid adding materials such as grass clippings in bulk. These can matt together blocking out the air. Compost turning can be done with a fork or a specialised aerating tool.
Tip 3: Ratios
Composting is like baking in that to get a good result you need the right balance of ingredients. Composting is easier though because there are only two main ingredients: carbon and nitrogen. Aim for a ratio of these two ingredients of 25:1. To give you an idea, shredded newspaper is high in carbon, with a ratio of approximately 170:1 whilst green vegetable scraps are higher in nitrogen with a ratio of around 30:1. You can judge how the ratio is going by the texture of your mix. If the compost is soggy with green waste, buffer it with some shredded paper or dry leaves; if it is too dry add more leafy greens, vegetable scraps and soft prunings.
Tip 4: Volume
The ideal minimum volume for compost is 1m3. This size will generate sufficient heat to destroy weed seeds and speed up the composting process. Avoid adding weeds to smaller volumes of compost, as the seeds will survive the process.
Tip 5: Water
Compost should never be wet or dry, but should have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. You may need to add water in summer as some composting units can dry out when temperatures are high.
Tip 6: Style
It does not matter what ‘oven’ you cook your compost in as the compost that results is the same whether it is slow or fast cooked. Units with a larger capacity and good aeration generate the most heat and therefore kill off weeds more effectively and compost faster.
Tip 7: Lime
Composting is a naturally acidic process. Adding a handful of lime every now and then will aid in the decomposition of the waste, encourage worm activity and discourage unwanted insect activity.
Tip 8: Accelerators and Activators
Commercially available compost accelerators add bacteria and fungi to the mix to help in breaking it down. Do it on the cheap by retaining some of your prior compost for inclusion in the next batch, or adding a bit of garden soil, which will also naturally contain these activators.
Tip 9: Get started!
Now you have an idea of what to do get out there and start making your own brew!