With International Compost Awareness week (2nd May – 8th May 2022) circling the globe we want to ask you if you have heard of the term “black gold”? No? It’s the collection, mixture and breaking down of kitchen and garden waste, which many know as composting! Black gold is the result, which slightly resembles soil but has major health benefits for your garden and plants.
We all know that you can simply dispose of these wastes in the council bins to be collected and repurposed into mulch or industrial compost, but did you know it can aid your plants become healthier and stronger at little to no extra cost.
Organic garbage accounts for up to half of the waste produced by the average Australian household. However, many Aussies don’t realise they can improve the quality of their soil by composting, at the same time as lowering the strain on the industrial facilities. Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter, or anything that was once living, allowing you to recycle essential nutrients and boost the health of your garden.
Convinced yet? Here are the steps to getting your compost bin up and running:
- Obtain a bin
Small, big, round, square, tall or short you ask? Compost bins are available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and materials, but which one is best? Well, any will work it all just depends on the size of your garden and space. Compost bins can be bought from garden store or hand made from recycled materials. Our friends at Flora and Fauna have a great selection of small garden compost bins. They also have a great selection of starter kits to get you going.
Side note: Compost bins can generate a lot of heat which can then pose a fire risk. Be sure to place the bin away from buildings, sheds or fence and ensure you can keep an eye on it during the warmer weather periods.
- Add compost (Greens & Browns)
It’s time to mix the fresh green garden waste (Fruit and vegetable peelings, grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, veggie plant remain and plants) with the dry brown materials (Dead leaves, dead plant, hay, newspaper, napkins, compostable plates) and add the mixture to your compost bin. The green waste is nitrogen-rich, the brown waste is carbon-rich, a good mixture of these is ideal to develop a good compost. Pro tip: Create a layer of garden refuse at the bottom of your bin to ensure good airflow, then layer your green and brown materials mixture on top.
Did you know toothpicks, eggshells, paper towel or toilet paper rolls, paper bags, hair from you or pets, sawdust etc. can be added in moderation. However, ensure you shred or chop everything as small as you can. This will speed up and evenly compost everything you put in.
- Add water & Air
An efficient compost bin is a careful balance of brown or dry materials that contain carbon and green or wet things that contain nitrogen. If you have too much dry material, a light watering will help it decompose more quickly. Ensure you only damp but not soak the pile of mixture.
Make sure to turn your compost pile weekly with a pitchfork or shovel, ensure your compost bin allows air to enter which will help everything to decompose much faster. A balanced combination of air and moisture will aid the microorganisms breaking down your compost to thrive and reproduce themselves. This will make your result a more successful and nutrient compost!
- Put the compost to use!
How can I tell once my compost is ready? Be sure to grab a handful and take a closer look. Ready/mature compost will have the following:
- Texture that’s crumbly and smooth – there should be nothing recognisable like intact peelings or leaves.
- It has a smell which resembles a wet forest – if you can still smell ammonia or sour odours your pile is not ready yet!
- Dark & rich colour – BLACK GOLD!!
Now your compost can act as a water-retaining mulch, a liquid fertilizer (AKA: compost tea) and a lawn fertilizer:
Mulch: Spread the compost in a 2-to-3-inch layer around trees, flowers, shrubs, or bushes.
Compost Tea: Take a shovel load and add it to a bucket for two to three days, then simply pour the liquid on your plants.
Lawn Fertilizer: Spread 1-to-3-inch layer on your grass, then rake it to evenly distribute everything. With the help of rainwater, the compost will sink into the soil and feed the grass.
No better week than International Compost Awareness week to set kick off your composting journey! We have set up a compost experiment at our Dingley Village store to show our range of compostable product begin to compost right before your very eyes. Be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram to see the journey unfold.