Composting & worm farms

1. Overview

Composting is a natural process that can be harnessed in your own backyard. By composting at home you can create a rich and natural soil conditioner for use in your garden. There is no specific method for home composting as every household has different types and volumes of organic waste. 

Why compost?

  1. Compost returns organic matter to the soil which adds nutrients, improves soils structure, water filtration and the water holding capacity of the soil.
  2. By diverting food and garden waste from landfill, composting helps reduce the amount of methane produced by our landfills and therefore reduces our greenhouse gas emissions.

Tips for a healthy compost bin

  1. Set up your compost bin in full or part sun in a well-drained position.  Make sure the bin is in a convenient location to encourage you to use and maintain it.
  2. When getting started, add a bucket of animal manure or a few handfuls of blood and bone to help jump start the microbes that convert food and garden waste into compost.
  3. Never let your compost dry out.  Ants in the compost may indicate it is too dry.  Add water and turn the compost regularly.
  4. If your compost smells or is attracting vinegar flies, this may indicate it is too wet or acidic.  Reduce the moisture by adding dry materials such as leaves or shredded newspaper, turn over the compost or mix in a handful of garden lime.
  5. Your compost should be similar to a squeezed sponge; you should be able to squeeze out a couple of drops of water from your compost.

Did you know?

  1. Around half the household waste going to landfill on the Mornington Peninsula could be composted.
  2. Around 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions from landfills are due to decomposing organic material that could have been composted.
  3. By composting at home the average household can prevent around 800 kg of greenhouse gas emissions per year.  

2.  ADAM: the recipe for great compost

Establishing and maintaining a home compost system can be simplified by following the four ADAM principles.

Aliveness
Compost is not a pile of dead, rotting rubbish! A compost bin is home to billions of bacteria, microbes, fungi and other critters enthusiastically converting food and garden waste into nutrient-rich humus that we call compost.

Diversity
An efficient compost bin requires a diverse mix of food. If you are following the ADAM principles it is not necessary to layer the ingredients in your compost bin. Simply add nitrogen rich ingredients as you generate them and compliment this by mixing in some carbon rich ingredients once a week.

Aeration
Air in your compost bin will ensure aerobic bacteria live in your compost. Maintain oxygen levels in your compost bin by turning the composting materials at least once a week. Adding a small quantity of course carbon rich materials such as small prunings and dry leaves will also help keep the air flowing. Frequent aeration will speed up the composting process and minimise unpleasant odours.

Moisture
Moisture is essential for maintaining the health of your compost and will help break down materials quickly. Dry compost will break down materials very slowly and a compost that is too wet will be low in oxygen and become smelly. Ideally your compost should be as moist as a damp sponge.

3. Daily Ingredients for a “Nitrogen Rich” compost

  • Fruit & veg scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags & tea leaves
  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Manure
  • Vacuum dust
  • Animal & human hair

4. Weekly Ingredients for a “Carbon Rich” compost

  • Prunings & bark
  • Dry grass clippings
  • Leaves, straw & hay
  • Cane mulch
  • Dead flowers
  • Shredded egg cartons
  • Shredded paper

5. Other Useful Ingredients

  • Soil
  • Egg shells
  • Wood ash
  • Lime
  • Dolomite
  • Blood & bone
  • Dynamic lifter

For more information visit www.compostweek.com.au/core/