Transforming your green waste into garden gold is a rewarding endeavor, and it all begins with mastering the art of composting. From managing the right balance of green and brown materials to maintaining proper aeration and moisture levels, our five key tips for successful composting.
1. Critical Mass
Compost requires a critical mass to get going which is about 0.5m3 of materials to generate enough heat to kick off the natural decomposition processes.
2. The Carbon/Nitrogen Balance
This is about balancing the brown matter and green matter in your compost at the correct ratios. Brown matter is generally all the dead, dry stuff like twigs, dry leaves, and straw. It is the main source of carbon in your compost. Green matter is fresh and moist such as vegie scraps and lawn clippings. A healthy compost pile requires at least 1:1 brown (carbon) to green (nitrogen) matter, but up to 30:1 brown to green is equally good. If your compost starts to smell, you have too much green matter to brown matter. Mix in more of the dry stuff and wet down, to rebalance your mix.
3. What can be composted?
There are a lot of rules of what can or cannot be composted. You can compost most green waste, vacuum cleaner dust, prunings and garden waste, and yes, coffee grinds and citrus can also be composted if they are in balance with everything else. Meat scraps and any cooked food scraps may attract rodents and will require a secured covering or inground composting. Some food scraps can also be a source of weed seed like tomato, pumpkin and, of course, weeds that have gone to seed. Try to keep these out of your compost otherwise these can end up popping up everywhere in your garden. These scraps are best fed to the chickens.
Your compost material should be moist but not soggy. Green materials usually provide all or most of the moisture the compost needs. Turning will cause much of the moisture to steam off, so in dry weather it may be necessary to add some water.
Rapid composting will require frequent aeration. This can be achieved by turning your compost regularly, using a drum compost bin which can be rolled to mix the contents or by making holes in your existing compost bin to let some air in to the mix.