Household waste that ends up in landfills lacks the oxygen it needs to decompose quickly and safely. Instead, it breaks down slowly, producing harmful methane gas which adds to global warming and climate change. Composting is a simple, eco-friendly, and cost-effective way to cut down on landfill waste and feed nutrients back into your garden at the same time!
What do you need to make your own compost bin?
Making your own compost heap or bin is really easy, you just need a couple of things to get you started:
A container for the kitchen scraps
You won’t want to be running out to your compost bin with every piece of food waste. So, find a suitable container that you can keep your kitchen scraps in until you’re ready to add it to your composter. Any sort of container with a lid will be fine but stainless steel or ceramics will help cut down on odors. And if it fits under the sink, even better!
A compost bin/heap
For an open/outdoor compost heap choose a spot in your garden that is in the shade and offers a fairly steady temperature. This will encourage the fungi and bacteria to keep working.
You can corner off an area by hammering wooden posts into the ground and tacking wire or wood around it to keep your compost contained.
If you don’t have space on the open ground, you can purchase a compost bin that you can place anywhere, even on paved terraces. There are plenty of outdoor composters to choose from, so it’s just a matter of finding one that fits the space you have available and your budget.
How to start your compost
The best way to kick start your compost heap is on bare earth so that worms and other organisms can get into it and do what they need to do!
On the ground, lay some small twigs or straw. This allows for drainage and oxygen to flow. To start it off, build your compost in moist and dry layers. Moist items can be food scraps, tea leaves, eggshells, or vegetable peels, while dry materials are things like wood, straw, leaves, cardboard.
Once you have a few layers of each, cover your compost with whatever you have available, wood, carpet scraps, or tarpaulin are all fine.
Once the pile is built up, you can then add any new materials by mixing them in with a garden fork or shovel instead of adding them in layers. This helps to aerate (give oxygen to) the compost.
What can you put in your compost bin?
A healthy compost pile needs both carbon and nitrogen, but more carbon. Carbon is a source of energy, while nitrogen gives proteins enabling the production of enzymes. The general rule is one-third green materials (nitrogen) and two-thirds brown materials (carbon).
Carbon-rich materials include:
Shredded brown paper bags
Nitrogen-rich materials include:
Green lawn clippings
What NOT to put in your compost bin?
While the compost is great for recycling many household waste materials, there are some things that shouldn’t be put on the pile!
Things like pet poop shouldn’t be used, especially if you are going to be using the compost to feed food crops. Citrus peel and onions should also be left out as they contain natural chemicals which can kill worms.
While disposable wooden utensils are completely natural and compostable, other wood items that are treated with varnish, stain, or paint should not be added to your compost.
What can you use your compost for?
Compost is like dark gold for your garden! If you love gardening, then a compost pile is your best friend. You can mix it into a flower bed you are about to plant, or into the soil that has been resting and cleared from plants. It’s also a great fertilizer for existing plants, trees, and flowers. You can also use it to replenish the soil in potted plants.
Compost bins are the best source of nutrition for your garden, and it’s a great eco-friendly way to get rid of your biodegradable waste and save money!