Introduction to Composting

The team at Cockatoo Community House and The Hills Community Garden have kindly provided us an introduction to composting.

What do I need?
All you need is organic matter and space in a garden or even just a container and if none of the above are possible find out what your local council or community has on offer. Some councils now offer a small compost bin that is supplied with your green bin so you can send all your compostable waste off with the weekly bin collection. 

A compost pile will be successful when you have a good balance of organic matter, water, oxygen, time and all the good organisms to help with the breakdown process. There are so many ways to compost you just need to find what suits you and your lifestyle.  

Types of composting

  • Spinning aerial bins  
  • On ground bins or piles 
  • Buckets or sealed containers 
  • Vermicomposting (worm farm)  

Ingredients for a successful compost

  • Greens – see table below
  • Browns – see table below
  • Water 
  • Oxygen – either by turning the compost pile or layering with browns 
  • Worms/ insects 
  • Animal manures like sheep, chicken, cow or horse. 
  • Other – eggshells, hair, vacuum cleaner contents

Ingredients to avoid

  • Inorganic materials coloured & glossy paper  
  • Animal products like meat, bones, fish, dairy, fats 
  • Pet poo (there are special compost systems e.g. Ensopet)
  • Diseased plants (eg rust, mildew) 
Greens / wet (Nitrogen rich)Brown / dry (Carbon rich)
Vegetable scrapsHay
Grass clippingsDry leaves (shredded)
Weeds (without seeds)Brown paper bags
SeaweedNewspaper (shredded)
Coffee groundsCardboard boxes
Tea leaves (avoid plastic bags)Toilet rolls
Aged manuresMulched trees/branches

Common problems:

  • Too dry? Water it
  • Too wet? Add more browns
  • Vinegary flies? Add more browns
  • Starting to smell bad? Add more browns and aerate it
  • Not breaking down? Add more greens
  • Rats getting in? Check that you’re not putting in dairy, meat or bread

If composting excites you but you don’t think you can do it just yet why not check out Sharewaste to donate your scraps to a local composter or get in touch with your local community gardens.

Join the Cockatoo Sustainable Food Project for weekly “Zoom in on your Garden” Q&A sessions, and further gardening resources and support from local community.

Need more inspiration, motivation or information about composting? You can find lots of upcoming events as part of Compost Awareness Week 2nd – 8th May 2021.

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