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A beginner’s guide to composting at home


If you want to give composting a go, this step-by-step guide to getting you started makes it as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Home composting is one of the most environmentally friendly ways of dealing with kitchen and garden waste – and also an excellent way to naturally improve the quality of your soil.

Composts provide fantastic natural nutrients for plants. Picture: Getty

Mark Paul, director at The Greenwall Company, says, “Just think about how much of food, leftovers and even food scraps you put in the bin on a daily basis. All of these can be reused rather than tossed. They form the base of your compost, which can then be used on your garden or shared with neighbours who compost.”

Useful in all gardens, Mark says composts provide fantastic natural nutrients for plants.

“Not only will you save money by creating your own homemade compost,” Mark explains, “but it will also be the most sustainable way to feed your garden and reduce water consumption,” he adds.

Bin composting is very easy and the kids can get involved too. Picture: Getty

The good news is, bin composting is very easy, says Mark, and even the kids can get involved.

“All you need to get started is a compost bin and as many green and brown compost materials as you can gather,” Mark says. “Just start adding your kitchen waste and you’re underway.”

All of these kitchen scraps can be reused as compost rather than tossed. Picture: Getty

Top 5 tips to start composting

1. Choose a compost bin

From indoor to outdoor bins and from turning to spinning ones, you will need to choose a composting bin that best suits your needs, space and budget. Speak to someone at your local gardening shop to determine which option is best for you.

2. Add kitchen and yard waste

Once you have your bin at home and in place, you can start adding to it. There are generally two categories – greens and browns. Brown materials are dried leaves, hay and straw, paper and cardboard, woody prunings, eggshells, tea bags and sawdust. Green materials are vegetable peelings, fruit and vegetable peelings, grass clippings, coffee grounds, green plant cuttings, annual weeds and young hedge trimmings. At a very basic level, what to compost is as simple as anything made from organic materials. Things you should not add include meat and bones, poultry and fish, fatty food waste, whole eggs, dairy products, pernicious weeds and treated wood. These will only attract pests into your home.

3. Moisten your compost

Lightly mist your compost pile with the garden hose each time you add to it to make sure the mixture stays moist – but make sure it’s not soaked.

4. Let the decomposition process begin 

Use a pitchfork to turn the compost every fortnight as this will help to speed up the process by aerating it and mixing the outside ingredients to the inside.

5. Harvest your compost

It can take anywhere from 14 days to a year to make finished compost. When the mixture turns brown, it crumbles easily and you can’t pick out any of the original ingredients. Once you have achieved finished compost, you can add it to the soil any time of year.

This article was originally published as A beginner’s guide to composting at home by and is written by Alexandra O’Brien

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