When you throw vegetable scraps and gardening waste into your garbage bin it costs you and the environment.
In many areas the land allocated to waste disposal is rapidly filling up. Approximately half of all household waste is organic. Most of this waste can be recycled through composting - turning waste materials into a rich soil supplement for use in your garden. By composting, not only can you help to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill but you can also help to reduce contamination and greenhouse gases.
Composting can reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by 60%.
We pay a high price in both monetary and environmental terms for the disposal of household garbage. By composting the organic parts of household garbage, much of our waste can be recycled, saving money and protecting the environment. A brochure on the benefits of composting (pdf 103 KB) is available.
Compost adds life to soil. It improves plant growth, increases the capacity of soil to hold nutrients and the ability of plants to resist disease.
We can reduce our current dependence on artificial fertilisers by returning organic matter to the soil as compost. It is the organic matter in soil which makes it resistant to erosion, maintains its fertility and stabilises its structure. Compost will:
Compost is partially decomposed organic matter. It is produced in the natural environment from decaying leaves and left on the forest floor. In the home garden we can achieve the same result, more quickly, by building a compost heap. It is a biological decay process which converts organic wastes into a crumbly, sweet smelling earth-like substance. The micro-organisms which produce compost need oxygen from the air, nitrogen and trace elements from the raw materials, water and a little time to do the job. Finished compost is dark in colour, moist, sweet smelling and colloidal - ie. ability to hold water and nutrients. Plant roots can extract water and nutrients from colloids. When composting, just remember ADAM!
Air is the most important ingredient in your compost. Without air, the bugs and micro-organisms that break down waste into plant foods cannot survive. Your compost will become smelly. To maintain enough air in your compost pile, turn or fluff the pile regularly (garden fork or compost mate)
Diversity in your compost pile is very important. A range of food types or organic matter lead to a variety of bugs and organisms working for you. The more you have, the faster your compost breaks down and the healthier it will be. The variety of material you add to your pile helps control the moisture levels and the airflow through your pile.
A good, healthy compost has a lot of bugs and other organisms living together. To encourage "aliveness", place the pile directly on the ground and remember to check the air, the diversity and the moisture level of your pile.
The creatures in the compost need air, diversity of food and moisture to survive. Too much moisture and the pile will lack air and the bugs will drown, too little and the bugs cannot survive. The pile needs to feel like a damp sponge. If too dry - add green, moist material, dregs of your tea/coffee or water your pile. If too wet - add some dry/brown material, turn the pile, or leave it uncovered on a warm sunny day.
The essential requirements are nutrients, air, water, micro-organisms and time.
Getting the correct balance is the trick.
The ideal mix - 20 parts carbon, 1 part nitrogen.
High in Carbon - dry leaves, twiggy prunings, sawdust, paper, straw, dry grass and wood ash
High in Nitrogen - vegetable scraps, fruit peelings, fresh lawn clippings, farm manure, seaweed
Organic materials not suitable for composting are:
If all is well within the compost heap the decay process may take as little as 8-10 weeks.
|Foul odours||Heap is too wet||Add dry leaves, turn the heap to improve drainage, add 250g of garden lime. Cover the heap during rain.|
Not enough nutrients
|Add 250g of blood and bone nutrients or another nitrogen-based fertiliser.|
|Not enough air||Turn the heap more often.|
|Not enough water||Moisten the heap.|
|Too cold in winter||Cover the heap with insulation material (Hessian).|
|Maggots||Meat, seafood, fats or faeces in the heap.||
Remove the cause.
Cover the maggots with lime.
Add soil to the top of the heap; turn the heap the next day.
There are two ways:
There are many different types of compost bins available from nurseries, hardware stores and major department stores. Compost Bins are also available for purchase at Kiama Council. To purchase:
As part of Kiama Council's initiative to further reduce waste going to landfill, the Bokashi Bucket is a form of composting that converts your kitchen waste into gardener's gold! And, as from Saturday, 22 September, 2007 will now be available to all residents of the Kiama Municipality.
The Bokashi Bucket is a practical and convenient alternative for transforming kitchen waste into a nutrient rich soil conditioner. This unique composting system uses the revolutionary EM (Effective Micro-Organism) Bokashi to create the ideal conditions for airtight (anaerobic) composting.
You can compost almost every kitchen food waste in your Bokashi Bucket including fruit and vegetables, prepared foods, cooked and uncooked meats and fish, cheese, eggs, bread, coffee grinds, tea bags, wilted flowers, tissues - even dog waste!!
Starter kits include 1 x 20L Bokashi Bucket, 1kg Bokashi grain and an information brochure are on sale for $70.
Bokashi grain, sold in 1kg lots, are on sale for $7 on a swap 'n go system, using the refillable containers that form part of the starter kits.
Residents interested in purchasing the Bokashi Composting System can do so from the weighbridge cashiers any day Monday through to Friday, 8am - 4pm.
For more information on the Bokashi Composting System refer to the website www.bokashi.com.au or contact the Waste Minimisation Officer, 4232 0444.
Last updated: Thursday 16 August, 2012