Grow, Eat…COMPOST…Repeat. This is the theme for International Compost Awareness Week in the US, which we think is brilliant, as composting is a really good way to reduce your carbon footprint. This circular process turns recycled organic materials into compost which creates healthy soils leading to more nutrient dense fruits and vegetables, the scraps of which in turn become compost. “Compost adds carbon back into the soil, promotes erosion control and closes the loop by avoiding the loss of valuable organic resources,” according to the Compost Foundation. When you send organic matter to landfill it creates methane which is a greenhouse gas, and which does more damage to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
The idea of starting to compost can be rather daunting, but here we have given you some easy tips, and we have included more references if you want to do some deeper reading.
What is compost?
Compost is the result of the biological decomposition of organic waste such as food or plant material. The waste is broken down by bacteria, fungi, worms and other organisms under controlled, oxygen-rich (aerobic) conditions.
- Compost regenerates poor soils.
- It reduces organic materials contributing to the production of the harmful landfill gas, methane
- It encourages the production of beneficial microorganisms and attracts earthworms
- It reduces the need for chemical fertilisers.
- Use a couple of bottomless bins so when one is full you can start on the other, in a shady spot. To avoid rodents (yes, rats!) bury the base slightly into the ground, line the bin with wire mesh and keep it covered.
- Have a good mix of “browns” (two parts) and “greens” (one part):
- Brown materials: hay, straw, sawdust, woodchips, leaves, weeds that have not gone to seed, cardboard, cotton balls, wine corks, fireplace ashes
- Green materials: food scraps and other materials (fruit and vegetable peels and rinds, tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells), and some types of animal manure (herbivores only such as chicken, cow, horse)
- Let the temperature climb. Heat in the centre of your compost pile is a good sign, as the microbes are breaking down what you’ve put in. As the compost matures it cools, creating a great environment for worms and other microbes to finish off the process.
- Don’t add meat scraps, cooking fats and oils, milk products and bones, which will attract rats.
- Don’t let nasty chemicals and germs get into your compost. This includes things like treated wood waste, pet waste (if they take medication or eat meat) and sick plants.
What To Compost
- Fruits and vegetables
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Tea bags
- Nut shells
- Shredded newspaper
- Garden trimmings
- Grass clippings
- Hay and straw
- Wood chips
- Cotton and Wool Rags
- Hair and fur
- Fireplace ashes