Put that bag of fertiliser back in the shed! Composting will make your garden healthy, and save you money, while helping the environment.
In the wild, no one is there to improve the soil or add fertiliser – yet plants flourish. Our garden beauties grow naturally by extracting nutrients from the soil, and that soil is replenished by the material that falls from the plants. Fertiliser is this substitute for the natural process of composting.
In the long term, compost makes your soil more fertile and well-structured – so encourage this natural cycle in your garden by starting your own compost system.
Choose a compost bin:
The ideal compost bin is easily accessible, has no gaps in the sides, and has a lid or cover. Purchase a compost bin at your local hardware or gardening store. Bunnings sometimes has great deals on bins if you pick your timing.
Place this bin in a sunny or semi-shaded spot, directly on the soil and away from water sources.
What to compost:
Avoid meat, dairy and cooked foods. Anything that was once ‘living’ will break down in the compost. Begin with grass clippings and weeds because they rot quickly and activate your compost.
The most important factor is the balance of materials – the rule of thumb use equal amounts of greens and browns (see below), otherwise your compost may develop an awful, pungent smell. As you progress in your compost, add older and tougher plant material that decay slowly.
- Grass clippings
- Green prunings
- Vegetable peelings
- Tea bags
- Animal manure
- Weed growth
- Waste paper (shredded for best results)
- Magazines & newspaper
- Animal bedding
- Wood shavings
- Hedge clippings
Do not compost
- Meat & Fish
- Cooked food
- Animal faeces
- Disposable nappies
- Cat litter
How to compost:
If you can turn your compost bin, you won’t need any other equipment. Otherwise, use a garden fork to mix.
Gradually begin to add compostable items to your heap. The bin will soon become alive with worms and crawlies, but this is good! The bugs help to break down the materials into compost.
It can take from 6-8 weeks, or even up to a year for the compost to be ready – dependent on how much attention you want to give it. The compost will have a pleasant, earthy smell when it is ready.
What to do with the compost:
Use the compost mixture on any garden bed. Spread as a thin mulch, approximately 5cm, dependent on the plants. The soil will begin to feed on the compost, and it will become incredibly fertile.