We have all watched Better Homes & Gardens and other gardening shows. They make it look so simple, especially when it comes to composting. However making garden compost is not as complicated as you might think. With a simple pile, you’ll be able to recycle most of your organic household and garden waste to make your garden’s soil richer, while also lending the environment a hand as well.

Setting up your own garden compost is a lot easier than most people realise. With a simple compost heap you can recycle most of your organic household and garden waste and enrich your garden’s soil at the same time. It’s also an extremely satisfying way to help the environment.

By turning leftover food and organic garden waste into compost, you can:

• Enhance soil quality and garden life by releasing the rich nutrients in the compost into the soil of your garden
• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by stimulating the aerobic breakdown of organic material and minimising the amount of garden and kitchen waste that is going to landfill
• Recycle valuable nutrients and lessen the use of artificial fertilisers

A composting system regulates the breakdown of material into organic matter over time. And what’s better is that you can use a range of materials to construct it. A composting system can be made out of old garbage bins, wooden boxes, or even in a simple heap.

Natural composting organisms that are present in any healthy compost require four equally important components to work effectively:

Nitrogen (Green ingredients)
Provides your pile with nitrogen, which grow and generate organisms to oxidise the carbon. These additions are usually green and wet: kitchen scraps, fresh lawn clippings, and weeds from your garden. Green ingredients are essential for every pile, but if all you have is green stuff, your pile can turn putrid and grimy, eventually turning it into a rotting pile instead of a composting one!

Carbon: (Brown ingredients)
Gives your pile carbon for energy (heat). These items are often brown and dry, which can range from fallen leaves, branches, hedge clippings, straw and the like. Carbon is essential but just as previously, too much carbon can have consequences for your pile. If you have a pile with mostly woody stuff, the pile can take quite a while to to break down. It can just sit there, lingering in your yard. Before long, you might have to include it in your will to your grandchildren.

Oxygen
Oxygen is needed for oxidizing the carbon and facilitating the decomposition process. This can be done by consistently turning the mixture. If your compost were starved of oxygen, it would start to produce greenhouse gases so it’s crucial to get air into your compost heap by turning it regularly.

Water
Any good composting mixture should be damp, but not soaking wet to maintain activity without causing anaerobic conditions.

How to Create Great Compost

1. Choose a Site:

Place your compost heap or bin in a well-drained area that has a little bit of shade. Too much sunlight can potentially dry out your compost.

2. What to Compost:

Green Ingredients: This is a combination of nitrogen rich organic materials such as fruit and vegetable peelings, and green garden vegetation such as fresh grass clippings and green leaves.Brown Ingredients: These are carbon rich materials such as dry leaves, woody twigs, paper and straw.

Then water and add some soil to completed compost to introduce composting microorganisms

3. Layering:

Start with a thick layer of coarse material (15cm), such as twigs or mulch. Then continue with a layered A, B, C system using the materials mentioned above. Finish by sprinkling soil or completed compost on top of food scraps that would make the compost richer and help reduce odours.

4. Maintaining Your Compost:

Keep your compost well ventilated to avoid foul odours or methane. Turn your compost with a garden fork on a weekly basis. Depending on the combination of ingredients that you used, the amount of time needed for the compost to turn into a rich soil could take as anywhere from six weeks to six months.

As you can now see, composting is for everybody! If you have a bit of space in your garden or your unit block, consider starting one today.