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How To Compost

17-Apr-2013 | Contributed by: JJ McConnachie

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Garden compost bin

If you have a large amount of garden waste, large open compost bins are the best.

Organic material like garden and kitchen scraps can be recycled into fertiliser through composting. Households who compost reduce New Zealand’s landfill waste, and even better, compost provides an easy source of fertiliser for their garden. 

What to compost: You can compost green material (kitchen food scraps, plant clippings, tea bags, and animal fur and manure) and brown material (dried leaves and twigs, sawdust and egg shells). You can’t compost meat, grease, dairy products, large bones, noxious weeds, or large bones. 

 If you are planning to use your compost in your vegetable garden it is it is best to avoid using the manure of meat eating animals (e.g. cats and dogs) as they can carry bacteria that can be passed onto people. 

Types of composts: 

There are different types of composts to consider, so pick one that suits your household size and needs:  

  • Open compost piles are good for large quantities of brown and green garden waste. 
  • Large, open compost bins are good for those that have a large amount of garden materials. Food material should be kept in the centre. 
  • Small, enclosed compost bins are good for those with a larger amount of kitchen waste as the closed bin can prevent rodents from getting attracted to your compost. 

How to compost: Once you’ve chosen your compost bin, you can get started with this how to compost guide:

  1. Choose a warm and sheltered spot with bare soil or grass for your compost.
  2. An ideal compost size is 1m2.
  3. Start with a dry base of twigs to aerate and drain. 
  4. Create thin, alternating layers of green material on brown material, moistening each layer with light mist from a garden hose. 
  5. Halfway through the layers, add some soil to encourage natural microorganisms. 
  6. You will notice the pile begin to heat up after about a week. Turn the pile every week, mixing the layers. 
  7. In addition to regular turning, keep your compost moist. 
  8. Your compost will be ready in two to six months, depending on the season and the ingredients. You’ll know it is ready when it is all brown and there are no recognisable ingredients.

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