Composting

Composting at home has a major role to play in reducing the amount of material that is currently going to landfill and is a great way for you to reduce your impact on the environment.

Home composting is a major component of the region's reduce, reuse and recycle campaign. A recent audit of household waste has shown that almost half of the waste being produced by the community is compostable.

Why compost at home?

  • Easy and cheap soil improver for home gardens as a substitute for artificial fertilisers
  • Adds vital nutrients to your soil that is wasted when thrown into landfill
  • Helps retain water in your soil
  • Saves landfill space with roughly half of all household rubbish being compostable
  • Diverting this material from landfill also helps our environment by reducing green house gas emissions
  • It's nature’s own way of recycling

How to get started?

  • Choose a shady spot in your garden, too much sun will dry out your compost
  • Put your compost in layers of food scraps, garden clippings, and paper, which will help build heat and speed up the process
  • Keep your compost as moist as a wrung out sponge, and mix it regularly (at least once or twice a week)

What materials can I compost at home?

Compostable
Fruit and vegetables and their peels, flowers, leaves, prunings, vegetable oil, egg shells, vacuum cleaner dust, tea bags and coffee grounds, lawn clippings, paper and cardboard (shredded or chopped into smaller pieces), used potting mix, and wood ash

Not Compostable
Meat, dairy products, bones, large branches, magazines, pet droppings, chemicals, oils or fats

Successful Composting

Food
Compost requires two types of food, browns and greens. Browns are dry materials such as straw, autumn leaves, ash, wood chips, newspapers or sawdust. Greens are fresh plant materials such as lawn clippings, food scraps and green leaves.

Air
The microorganisms found in your compost that break down the material require air to work effectively. In order to maintain a healthy supply of air throughout your compost, you will need to stir your compost regularly.

Water
Compost moisture is a very important aspect of composting because if your compost is too wet, air will begin to be excluded throughout the pile which slows the process and creates unpleasant smells. Alternatively if your heap is too dry then the compost will fail to heat up and slow down the process significantly. To avoid any problems your compost pile should be roughly as moist as a wrung out sponge.

Common Problems

Bad smelling compost
If your compost bin starts smelling like ammonia (acidic) there is too much nitrogen from green waste. If this happens add more materials that contain carbon e.g. ash, lime or dolomite (dolomite can be purchased from nurseries or hardware stores). If it is beginning to smell like rotten eggs, then your mixture is too wet. If this happens the bin needs to be stirred more often or add twigs to increase air pockets which helps air move through.

Compost attracting animals?
If your compost is attracting small, harmless vinegar flies, it is an indication that your compost is working properly. However, if your compost pile is attracting unwanted animals or blowflies you may be adding some of the wrong ingredients to your compost. To avoid this do not add any meat, fish or dairy products, cover each layer of food scraps with a layer of soil, place the bin on a layer of wire mesh.

Compost taking too long to break down?
Your compost may be too dry, the mixture of ingredients may not be right, or the pile may not have enough air. Add more nitrogen rich ingredients such as manure, grass clipping or vegetable scraps. Check moisture, if the pile is too dry add water until pile is as wet as a wrung out sponge. Stirring the pile more often will increase air flow and lessen the time the material takes to break down.

Learn more about your Green Waste