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How to compost

This is not an easy question to answer. The compost that you make in your home compost bin will ultimately depend on the 'ingredients' that you have added to your bin.

The best way to view composting is like baking a cake. Firstly you need the correct ingredients, once you have prepared and mixed them properly, allowed the right time to bake (compost) - a good compost should be the end product. Just as with baking, you might not get the right compost on your first attempt. The good thing is that the material can be remixed and added back to the top of your compost bin if you prefer.

So, what 'ingredients' should I add to my home compost bin?

The main four ingredients that you will need will be:

  1. Browns
  2. Greens
  3. Air
  4. Water

Browns are dry, woody materials that have a high carbon content, e.g. twigs, cardboard, scrunched up paper and egg boxes. Greens are fresh materials, such as grass, leaves, fruit and vegetables peelings (Nitrogen supply). Greens and browns should be mixed in at about 50/50 by volume.

Entry of air to the compost is helped if you include small twigs, scrunched up paper and egg boxes which create air spaces in the compost. To add more air you should turn the compost regularly by shaking the top layer using a garden fork. Every week or so should be enough. Water should be added to the pile as you build it up and turn it. A good test is that if you pick a sample of compost and squeeze tight, a tiny drop of water should come out - like a wrung out sponge.

Finally, as with houses, what makes a good composter - location, location, location. Make sure that the compost bin is located over soil, and where possible in an area where the sun will be able to heat up the bin during the day. That is if we ever see the sun during the day!

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Last updated: 28 October 2015

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