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How to create compost gold

Posted: 12pm 12 Mar 2022

There’s a lot of talk about the value of adding organic matter to your garden and making your own is easy once you know how.

The experts at Bunnings have shared their tips for turning household food scraps and paper recyclables into garden gold.

Cardboard, newspapers, kitchen scraps, rotten fruit and vegies, grass clippings and fallen leaves can all go into a compost bin where they will be transformed into nutrient-rich organic material that can be used to improve and enrich soil or potting mixes.

There are many ways to compost and various systems to suit a space, no matter how big or small.

Single stationary compost bin: You can buy these in different shapes and sizes, depending your need and the size of the space you’re working with. They are enclosed and a simple, yet effective way to compost. Add material at the top and empty from the bottom.

Tumbler bin: These are a raised bin with a crank or similar mechanism to allow you to easily rotate the unit and aerate the mix. Turn regularly to accelerate the composting process. These are great in pairs – fill one, while you rest the other before adding the material to your garden.

Compost bays: These are an ideal solution for those with a large backyard and access to a large amount of garden waste and other materials. They are a little more physically demanding as you will need to regularly turn and move materials from one bay to the next.

Kitchen bench bins: There are many of these available including the Bokashi bin. They are a bucket-sized bin which you can easily add all food scraps and waste, including meat and dairy. This system is not a true compost bin as the materials do not break down, but with the help of bokashi microbes the waste is fermented and helps accelerate the decomposition process. Once fermented, the contents can be added to the compost bin or buried in the garden.

The magic mix

Compost bins need a good balance of nitrogen or ‘green’ waste, carbon or ‘brown’ waste, air and moisture for the process to be effective.

Alternate layers of green and brown materials, top with a layer of cardboard of newspaper and give it good spray of water. Use a garden fork or compost aerator to fluff the mix weekly; this will help the waste break down faster.

Nitrogen or green waste: kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, lawn clippings, leaves, aged cow or chook manure, disease-free plants, and tea leaves.

Carbon or brown waste: newspaper, cardboard, shredded paper, sawdust, vacuum dust, and egg cartons.

Things to avoid: Meat, dairy and bread (except in a Bokashi bin); weeds; diseased plant material; and large quantities of grass clippings.

Troubleshooting

Smelly compost bin: there are too many wet or green ingredients; add dry or brown matter and use a fork or compost aerator to thoroughly turn the pile.

Nothing is breaking down: the compost may be too dry. Add a handful of pelletised organic matter, give it a good soak and mix well.

Compost is matted and clumpy: the compost is moist and will benefit from being regularly turned. Add a small amount of dry matter if it is more on the wet side.

Want to make your own sleeper compost bin? DIY instructions here https://www.bunnings.com.au/diy-advice/garden/composting/diy-sleeper-compost-bin

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