How To Make Your Own Compost At Home

By Renée Ardon-Coppinger
1st Aug 2022

It’s shocking to discover that almost half of the waste thrown out in the typical Aussie household is organic material that could have been turned into black gold rather than being mindlessly chucked out. We here at Urban List believe that every individual has a responsibility to make small attainable changes in our everyday lives to help our beautiful mother nature prosper, and while we know it’s hard to rewrite the world’s carbon emissions, we’ve started small and created a simple beginners guide to composting to get you on your way.

Following these simple steps will not only help reduce your footprint, but will also have your garden thriving as a result in no time.

1. Find A Method That Works Best For Your Space

Whether you have hectares of land or nothing but a tiny courtyard, there are now brilliant creations that can fit any space if you look hard enough. For more petite backyards, static or tumbling compost bins are ideal options as they are compact and fully covered meaning no unseemly views from out the window.  If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of room, then a garden compost pile or bay(s) are perfect. Make sure whichever space you choose has some shade so that the decomposing materials don’t dry out too much. Not sure where to start? Check below for our favourite compost methods for newbies:

2. Figure Out What You Can And Can't Compost

We’ve all lived with that well-meaning person who doesn’t quite understand the correct break up of the bins, so make it as simple as you can for them with a clear list of cans and can’ts to ensure there’s no confusion.

There are two categories you can compost; green and brown waste. Green materials are generally food-based materials such as fruit and veggie scraps as well as egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags and plants such as old flowers, weeds and cuttings. Brown materials refer to all the other items such as paper, cardboard, dry leaves and sawdust.

And then there’s some tricky commonly confused categories you can’t compost that’s good to have a list of:  meat, bones, cooking fat, glossy paper, weeds with seeds (this one surprised us), large branches and pet droppings all must be avoided as they can cause issues in the breakdown of materials.

For an eternal hardcopy of the the dos and don'ts of composting, check out the below reads:

3. Layer The Materials Correctly

Now that you’re a master of the dos and don’ts, it's time to get layering—a step which is less known amongst environmental warriors. It’s pretty straight forward; the base should start with a layer of mulch, potting mix or twigs to develop air circulation and provide drainage so that the upper layers don’t go stale. After this, you can begin with the green and brown materials, just make sure to add a little water between each layer so the compost remains moist, but not too wet. Finish off with another layer of soil or more advanced compost to help reduce those questionable smells.

An expert tip: The smaller the items, the quicker they decompose so consider cutting or breaking up bigger items to get the process moving along faster!

4. Be Patient

You’re nearly there - now it’s time to step back and wait for that rich brown crumbly texture to emerge which generally takes a couple of months. To aerate, try to turn the compost with a fork, stake or garden tool every week or so to keep allowing that air to move through freely. Once that’s all broken down, you’ve got yourself the perfect nutrient-filled solution for dry gardens AND can save yourself some dollars on expensive fertilisers and nasty chemicals. Spread along your garden beds liberally, and continue on the process from scratch knowing that you’re making a difference in the universe - go you.

For more sustainability tips, head over here.

Image credit: Urban List

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