The CHEM-ELEON iPhone app

Articles about your health, what you eat, our earth and lots of other stuff...


Composting Brings your scraps to life


On average, about half our household rubbish is comprised of food scraps, garden waste and other organic matter. The best way to dispose of this type of waste is by composting. It will significantly reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill and provide your garden with wonderful nutrients.

Composting is a natural decaying process that converts organic matter (food and garden waste) into a crumbly earthy nutrient-rich product. It’s nature’s way of recycling previously living things into healthy soil.

The composted matter improves soil by adding nutrients; breaking up heavy clay soils, increases the soil’s capacity to hold water and adds essential minerals to the soil.

Your veggies will love it and your garden beds will bloom with joy!

What can you compost?

  • Fruit and vegetable peelings
  • Tea leaves and coffee grounds
  • Egg shells and egg boxes
  • Cardboard cereal boxes torn into strips
  • Twigs, woody mulch, leaves
  • Grass clippings and weeds
  • Dead flowers
  • Shredded Newspaper
  • Pasta, rice and bread (in small quantities)
  • Manure (cow, horse and chickens)
  • Animal and human hair, feathers
  • Vacuum dust

The key to a good composting is a balance of ingredients that are nitrogen rich and carbon-rich. If you want the compost to break down faster, make sure you chop and cut your waste into smaller pieces.

What shouldn’t be composted?
Meat and other proteins such as tofu, fish, dairy, bones, plastics and pet poo.

How do I get started?
There are many ways that you can compost. You can buy a variety of compost bins, barrels and tumblers that come in all shapes and sizes from your local garden center, or alternatively you can make your own.

To make your own, find a well-drained sunny position in your garden, that isn’t too close to an outdoor eating area or open windows. Compost does attract bugs and can be a little smelly during the hotter months of the year.

The bottom layer of your compost should be lined with shredded newspaper , twigs and dry leaves. You can then start adding your organic waste to the pile and add some soil on top to cover it. About once a week give it a turn with a fork or shovel to aerate the pile. The oxygen helps it break down faster and also keeps it mixed and balanced. Don’t forget to keep it moist. All plants and animals need water to live and so does your compost heap. Your compost will be alive with slaters, beetles, bacteria, fungi, worms and streptomycetes.

How long does it take for my compost to be ready?
Your compost will take between 8-10 weeks if you turn it once a week. If you are a busy little bee and forget to turn it or aerate it weekly it will take longer. When its ready it will look like lovely rich brown soil which is crumbly and loose.

What do I do with the compost?
Compost can be used as a starting mix for seedlings, it can be added to your garden bed or potting mix.
It can also be added to your indoor plants and its even great for your lawn. Just spread a thin layer over your grass twice a year to feed your lawn.

Want more information?
Ask a neighbour, a wise gardener or your local garden centre experts or visit these websites:

Happy Composting!

This article appears in the 'Plastic Issue' of the EarthFIrst iPad Magazine. Grab yourself a copy for only $2.99, that's cheaper than a cup of coffee!

You might also be interested in...

What do you think?