How To Start A Compost Bin

How To Start A Compost Bin

November 10, 2018

I can give you four reasons why composting is a great idea

#1 Reduce your impact on the environment

#2 Improve the quality of your garden soil for free

#3 Reduce your water consumption (composted gardens need less water)

#4 Green homes are worth more on the market

If you have kids it’s also a great way to educate them on waste management and reducing their carbon footprint in a way that is interactive and fun.

If you have a garden space then composting makes sense.  There are a few hurdles to overcome that can make starting out a little overwhelming, but with a little insider know-how you can get started quickly and easily. Just read on below.

What bin do I need?

The range of compost bins is quite surprising. You can chose from indoor and outdoor, and there are also some bins that spin and turn, and some that have an extra tray for worms. The way to proceed is to look at your space and how you will be using your finished product. This will help you determine the best spot to place your bin. When it comes to bin size, you want to factor in both your kitchen waste supply as well as the size of your garden. Once you have taken these things into account you are ready to have a chat with a staff member at a gardening supply store. Let them know what you want, how much space you have and what your budget is for them to give you options that best match your needs.

What to add?

As soon as you have your bin set up in the best place you are ready to go.

You can feed your compost bin any type of organic waste. The only exceptions are meats, and that includes bones, fish, chicken, fatty waste, dairy foods, eggs (eggshells are okay), poisonous weeds and treated wood. Basically, consider your compost bin to be vegan and you can go all out from there.

The items you add can be brown waste:

• Leaves

• Hay/straw

• Paper/cardboard

• Branch and twig prunings

• Sawdust

• Eggshells

• Tea bags

Or green waste:

• Fruit/vegetable peelings

• Grass clippings

• Coffee grits

• Green plant prunings (leaves)

• Regular garden weeds

• Trimmings from young hedges

Even though there are two categories of waste it all goes in together.

Is there any maintenance required?

You will need to keep your compost mix moist. Simply spray a light mist over with the garden hose each time you ad more waste in. You want it to be wet but not soaked, so don’t overdo it.

Every fortnight turn your compost, (most people use a pitchfork). This is an important step to accelerate the break down process by getting fresh air to the mix and dispersing the newer produce through the richer, old material. It’s also important for those who have earthworm trays, to prevent the mix from getting too hot.

When can I use it?

A really good compost takes between two weeks to a year to complete. You will know it is ready when the mix is crumbly and brown and the original materials are indistinguishable.

When ripe you can add your compost to your existing garden soil at any time of the year to enrich the soil base and feed your plants.

Will it smell?

If your compost has the correct blend of carbon, nitrogen, and moisture it won’t smell or attract any pests, like flies and ants. You might have to trial a few compost mixes to begin with to find the blend of ingredients that works for your home, the ingredient mix will be more sensitive to begin with as there is very little to blend with. Remember, every household will consume different amounts of various ingredients, start slow and monitor your compost to see what works before taking on waste from neighbours, friends and commercial sources, like growers markets.

Got too much mulch? Your neighbours will be happy to take some healthy soil fertiliser off your hands, especially if they have donated some scraps of their own along the way.

You will be really surprised by the volume of food scraps, left overs and waste you are able to reuse that would normally contribute to landfill. At the rubbish tip it’s of no benefit to anyone, especially as green waste is a big contributor to methane gas emissions. But out in the compost bin you are working to make vegetables, earthworms and flowers exceedingly happy.

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