Anything organic can be composted, including fruit and vegetable peelings, newspapers, grass clippings, weeds, tea leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, potting mix, flowers, hair and fur. Avoid putting meat and dairy products into your compost until you are experienced, as these might attract mice and rats.
In 4 easy steps you can set up your own compost:
- Choose the site for your compost: A good drainage and shade are ideal.
- What can you compost: A compost is a mix of different organic materials, you can therefore compost basically everything that was once a plant or an animal.
- Layering: The best way to start a compost is with a thick layer (15 cm) of twigs or coarse mulch at the bottom to facilitate the drainage. The next (thin) layer (A) should be kitchen organics and green garden organics. Cover completely with a layer (B) of brown garden organics, suchas straw, wood shavings, hedge clippings, bracken, saw dust, wood shavings, leafmould. Finally moist (C) these layers well. Then repeat steps A-C.
- Maintaining your compost: To avoid smell it is important to add air. You can either turn it with a garden fork or place garden stakes or pipes through the heap. Cover your heap to avoid a wet compost. Sprinkle soil or finished compost on top of the food scraps to minimise odours and introduce the micro-organisms that recycle
Worm-farms are a great way to turn your organic kitchen leftovers into a rich fertiliser. Worm-farms are especially convenient, if you live on a small block or a flat, as they can even be placed on a balcony.
How to build your own worm-farm:
- Choose the site for your worm-farm: the spot should not be too hot or cold.
- Get 2 boxes. Poke about twenty holes in the bottom of one box. Put the lid and place it on the box without holes. The bottom box will catch the liquid produced by the worms (worm tea).
- Layers: Place about 10 cm shredded paper, leaves and finished compost as a bedding layer.To this you should add about 1,000 worms. The worms used for worm farms are called compost worms, tiger worms or red wrigglers. Cover the bedding with a layer of hessian, newspaper, carpet etc. Once the worms have burrowed into the bedding (two to three days) you can start adding small amounts of kitchen scraps.
- What to feed your worms: vegetable and fruit peel, tea bags, coffee grounds, paper. Avoid meat, dairy products, gardening waste, and acid foods like onion, garlic, citrus.
- Harvesting your castings: move them to one side of the farm and add new food to the other side. Soon your worms will migrate into the food pile, and it will be safe to remove your castings. In addition, the liquid which is called 'worm tea' that collects in the bottom box can be used as a liquid fertiliser, once it has been diluted. It should be diluted at about 1 part worm tea to 9 parts water.