Composting is a natural recycling process where we turn our organic waste, like kitchen scraps and garden clippings, into something incredibly useful for our gardens. It’s all about breaking down these materials through decomposition.
The secret to getting it right? The right balance. You need a good mix of nitrogen-rich materials – kitchen leftovers like vegetable peels or chook manure – and carbon-rich stuff like dried leaves or shredded newspaper.
Types of Composting
Here’s a look at the different types of composting methods, each with its unique benefits, making them suitable for a range of Australian gardeners.
This is the most common method for individual households. It involves creating a compost pile or bin where kitchen and garden waste are layered and left to decompose. It’s ideal for those with some garden space who want to recycle their organic waste.
Vermicomposting (Worm Farming)
This method uses worms to break down organic waste. It’s perfect for those with limited space, such as apartment dwellers or tiny homes without gardens. Worm farms can be kept indoors or outdoors and produce solid compost and liquid fertiliser.
Originating from Japan, Bokashi composting is fermented using a particular Bokashi bran. It’s an anaerobic process that can handle almost all types of kitchen waste, including meat and dairy, which are typically not recommended for other composting methods. It’s fast, odourless and suitable for small spaces.
For those who don’t have the space or means to compost at home, community composting is a great alternative. Many Australian communities have local composting programs where residents can contribute their organic waste. It’s a great way to participate in waste reduction and community building.
This method involves carefully managing the compost to achieve higher temperatures, resulting in faster decomposition. It requires more effort in balancing materials and turning the compost, but it produces compost much faster than traditional methods.
This method involves digging a trench in the garden and burying organic waste directly in the soil. Over time, the waste decomposes and enriches the soil. It’s a low-maintenance method that works well for gardeners who prefer a more ‘hands-off’ approach.
The Composting Process
Composting is not just about disposing of waste; it’s about creating a valuable resource that enriches your soil and benefits your garden. Here’s a rundown of what a typical process looks like:
Starting Your Compost: Choose a shady spot for your compost bin or heap to prevent it from drying out. Begin with a layer of straw or twigs at the base for aeration.
Balancing Green and Brown Materials: The key to successful composting is balancing ‘green’ materials (like vegetable scraps, which are rich in nitrogen) and ‘brown’ materials (like dried leaves or shredded newspaper, which are rich in carbon). This balance helps microorganisms thrive and speeds up the decomposition process.
Aeration and Moisture: Regularly turning or aerating the compost with a fork every week or two is crucial. This introduces air, which is essential for the composting process. You can also use rigid PVC pipes with drilled holes to aerate the heap.
The Decomposition Process: Over time, the organic waste decomposes through the action of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms. This process can be accelerated in a ‘hot’ compost heap, where higher temperatures lead to faster decomposition.
Mature Compost: After several weeks to months, depending on your method, the compost will transform into a dark, crumbly soil-like substance. This is your compost, ready to be used in your garden!
How to Compost at Home
Starting a compost heap at home is a rewarding way to contribute to a healthier environment while enriching your garden. Here’s a straightforward guide to get you started:
Select the Right Spot: Find a convenient spot in your garden for your compost bin or heap. It should be easily accessible, but not too close to your living areas to avoid potential odour issues.
Choose a Compost Bin: Various compost bins are available, from simple open heaps to closed tumblers. Choose one based on your space, the amount of waste you generate, and your composting goals.
Layer Your Compost: Start with a layer of coarse material, like small branches or straw, to aid drainage and aeration. Then, add green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) material layers. Green materials include vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, and fresh grass clippings. Brown materials encompass dry leaves, straw, paper, and cardboard.
Maintain the Right Conditions: Keep your compost moist but not too wet. If it’s too dry, the decomposition process slows down; if it’s too wet, it can become smelly. A compost should have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge.
Turn the Compost: Regularly aerate your compost with a garden fork. This helps to speed up the decomposition process and prevents odour and pests.
Monitor the Process: Over time, the bottom layers of your compost will turn into a dark, crumbly material that smells earthy – this is your finished compost. Depending on the conditions and materials used, it usually takes a few months to a year.
Using Your Compost: Use the finished compost in your garden as a soil conditioner, mulch or potting mix. It’s packed with nutrients and beneficial microorganisms for plant growth.
Benefits of Composting
Composting offers many benefits, particularly for the environmentally conscious Aussie gardeners. Here’s why turning your kitchen scraps and garden waste into compost is a brilliant idea:
Waste Reduction: Composting at home significantly reduces the amount of waste in landfills. In Australia, where waste management is a crucial environmental issue, composting effectively reduces our ecological footprint.
Soil Health Improvement: Compost is a fantastic soil conditioner. It enriches the soil with essential nutrients, promoting healthier plant growth. This is particularly beneficial in Australia, where soil conditions vary greatly and often require enrichment.
Water Conservation: Compost improves soil structure, increasing its ability to retain water. This is especially valuable in Australia’s often dry climate, as it reduces the need for frequent watering and helps conserve water resources.
Reduction of Greenhouse Gases: When organic waste decomposes in landfills, it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting, you’re preventing this and directly contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Promotes Biodiversity: Composting encourages a diverse range of beneficial microorganisms in the soil. These microorganisms are essential for a healthy ecosystem and contribute to the natural balance of your garden.
Cost-Effective: Making your compost is more cost-effective than buying commercial soil conditioners and fertilisers. It’s a great way to save money while providing your plants with high-quality nutrients.
Wondering How to Enrich Your Garden Naturally?
Are you pondering how to elevate your garden’s health and appearance? Artview Landscapes in Sydney offers more than just a garden makeover; we provide a journey into the sustainable practice of composting. Transform your everyday organic waste into a treasure trove of nutrients for your garden.
Our expert team will guide you through each step, from designing your dream garden to teaching you the art of composting, ensuring your garden is visually stunning and ecologically thriving. With our help, your outdoor space will be a testament to beauty and environmental responsibility.
Ready to bring this vision to life? Contact Artview Landscapes today, and let’s start crafting your eco-friendly garden paradise!
Owner/operator of Artview Landscapes, Brian Baker is a talented landscape designer who has been managing, designing and building structured landscapes in Sydney for twenty five years. He has personally built or managed over 800 landscape construction projects ranging in value from $5,000 to $250,000 for residential projects and between $10,000 and one million dollars for commercial projects.