A Beginner’s Guide to Composting

A Beginner’s Guide to Composting

In 2021, environmental concerns are more prominent than ever before, and people all over the world are looking for ways to minimise their impact on the earth. A compost bin is a powerful tool for anyone who wants to do their part for the environment and a surprisingly low-maintenance process. Working within a few helpful guidelines, you’ll be composting like a pro. 

Composting for beginners 

First things first: why should you start a compost bin? There are a few good reasons to do so, including waste reduction and garden perks like healthier soil. When you’re ready to start composting, one of the easiest steps you can take to start is making a compost bin. If you’re going the traditional compost route, all you need is a space in your home or garden, a durable container, and plenty of organic materials to put in it – but before you jump in, it’s a good idea to examine your composting options. 

Common compost options 

Garden compost 

The garden is an ideal place for a compost heap, whether you use a compost tumbler, a bin, or a bay – and if your chosen spot gets natural sunlight, you can look forward to an even faster composting process. Just remember to invest in a separate kitchen compost bin for collecting organic food waste – this will save you from making daily trips to your main compost container. 

Bokashi

A similar idea to the traditional compost bin, the Bokashi compost system provides the added value of microbes. Bokashi powder ferments and preserves the waste until it’s buried in soil, allowing the micro-organisms to accelerate the decomposition process, and leaving a nutrient-rich liquid at the base to be used around the garden.

Worm farms 

Like a living compost bin, a worm farm allows you to see the benefits of your gardening commitment almost immediately. The worms’ waste is a fantastic garden fertiliser, and as they can break down many different types of waste, from kitchen scraps, paper and cardboard to vacuum cleaner dust and hair, you’ll never be short on supplies. Keep your worm farm in a cool, dark place and throw in an occasional watering to keep it moist, and your worms will quickly become valued members of your household environmental strategy. 

Getting the best out of your compost

Use fine organic matter

The process of biodegradation takes time, but you can determine just how much time by including the right kind of organic matter. Fine materials are far easier to process through the compost system than large chunks, so consider breaking things down before adding them to your compost bucket or bin. 

Commit to regular maintenance

Of all the ways you can give back to the environment, composting is one of the easiest, but it’s no set-and-forget operation. If you want the benefit of well-formed compost matter, you’ll need to check on your mix regularly, making sure to keep it moist and turn the contents over. 

Use it at the right time

Using your compost before it’s at its best will only deprive your garden of much-needed nutrients, so embrace the waiting game for as long as it takes to achieve a rich, brown colour with a crumbly texture. Generally, it can take several months to reach this end stage, depending on the type and consistency of matter you add.

Getting started 

Once you have your compost area set up, it’s time to start filling it with quality compost materials – and this is where things can get a little confusing if you’re not sure how to make compost.

Composting, like recycling, is all about breaking materials down, and some additions work better than others. To avoid a clogged bin or tumbler, you’ll need to feed it the right things, namely green and brown materials. The right balance of “green” (fruits, vegetables, eggshells, tea and coffee grounds) and “brown” (paper, cardboard, leaves and wood) creates a good blend of carbon and nitrogen for speed and minimal odour. 

Composting is a simple process with a significant payoff: all the benefits a healthy garden can bring. With these tips, you’re ready to get an efficient system up and running, and you won’t feel like a beginner for long! 

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