Compost 101

COMPOST Made Easy

Background:

As you may be aware, Global warming is a constant issue, if we each take responsibility and make little changes, we can make a difference.  Composting is a great way to recycle waste.  Any organic material will do – food scraps, plant material, lawn clippings, weeds, seaweed, wood ashes, straw and animal manure can be used.  The process involves good little soil organisms breaking down the waste into a nice, sweet smelling crumbling “soil”.

How to make compost:

While there is no set recipe for making compost, be aware there are lovely living micro-organisms at work.  When these little buddies have the right conditions, they will do most of the work for you. Heat and good air circulation are the secrets to making great compost.  While the little buddies are hard at work, they generate heat, which is vital in breaking down organic material.

Choose an area of well-drained soil (not concrete) approximately one metre square, which is sheltered from the sun, wind and rain.  The reason you don’t place on concrete is that worms need to get in and around the mixture to help aerate it.  Don’t place near your house.

There are heaps of different types of compost bins, and of course if you have a handyman at home, you can get one custom built!  Just ensure it has a tight fitting lid to keep nasty vermin and rain out.

Avoid bulky items that are bigger than approximately 5mm in diameter.  Chop and mix up the material to improve aeration and drainage.  If the mixture is dry, you may have to add a little water, but be careful not to drown our little buddies!

Build up in layers ensuring you add coarse garden material (thin prunings etc) then following with layers of vege peelings, grass clippings and more plant material.

Each layer should be sprinkled with either blood and bone or a compost activator.  Add lime to each layer to keep your mixture sweet smelling and to speed up the decomposition process.  On top of all this add a layer of soil.  Repeat this process until your compost bin is full.  Whew!

After the mixture cools down (about two weeks time), get in and turn it over to again increase the all essential aeration and decomposition process.  You can transfer to another bin to speed the process up.

Compost obviously ‘matures’ faster in summer than in winter, so the process can take anywhere from two to five months.  This may seem arduous, but is well worthwhile in the end.

Keep turning the compost over and when there is no heat after turning it, it is ready to use.  Do not use while there is still heat as it can damage plants in your garden!  Now your compost should be a lovely dark brown-black colour, be crumbly and have a lovely earthy smell.

DO NOT USE:

  • Diseased material and invasive plants like dock seed heads, dandelion roots, couch and oxalis as these hardy beggars may survive the heat in the compost bin to regenerate when placed in your garden.  Pity a lot of plants weren’t this hardy!!!
  • Dairy product scraps, meat or bones.

This sheet provides basic information on creating compost.  As this is general in nature, Thyme 4 Jo Limited is not responsible for the application of this process as each individual site may require modifications.

Please check with your local council or any other relevant body regarding positioning of compost bins.

In all cases, if you are unsure, seek professional advice.

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