Spending time in the kitchen is one of life’s simple pleasures, but it can be even more enjoyable knowing your kitchen scraps can be put to good use when composting in your own backyard.
Composting is a simple way to reduce kitchen waste and create a valuable fuel for your veggie garden – helping to enrich your next crop of homegrown goodness.
Recycling organic material like fruit or vegetable scraps – which are broken down by microscopic soil organisms like fungi and microbes in the soil – releases valuable nutrients and creates a natural fertiliser to help your garden shine.
Getting started with composting
Understanding a few composting basics will have you well on your way to producing rich, nutrient-filled goodness for your fruit trees of veggie patch.
These simple tips will help you best manage and maintain your compost and encourage plenty of tasty garden-to-plate experiences:
Most soils in Western Australia are unproductive and need to be improved with soil improvers.
You can create your own soil improver, while reducing landfill, by making your own compost from kitchen scraps and garden plant matter.
If you find your garden soils are sandy, you’ll also need to add some clay as this acts to reduces water repellence and stops the nutrients from leeching away.
How you compost at home depends on your individual needs and preferences – but if you’re making a start by recycling kitchen scraps for the garden you should consider purchasing a metal or plastic compost bin or tumbler.
There’s styles and designs to suit any budget, so head to your local hardware or gardening store or local garden supply store to see what might work best for your place.
The right ingredients for composting
To make compost you need to have a balance of moist and dry material.
For the moist ingredients, go for kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, animal manure and fresh lawn clippings.
Dry materials such as hay, dried leaves and shredded paper or cardboard will balance things out for best results.
Keep in mind your compost will break down ingredients faster by breaking ingredients into small pieces, speeding up the process and getting that goodness onto your garden sooner.
The perfect compost is made with a mix of about four parts dry material to one part wet material.
Without the right mix the compost is slower to heat up and break down, so it might end up smelling unpleasant.
The compost should also be moistened just enough so no liquid drips from the mix when a handful of the compost is squeezed.
You can choose to put the material in a heap if you have the space, but make sure you cover the compost with a tarp to keep it out of the rain. Alternatively, use a plastic compost bin or tumbler.
The compost can be positioned in the shade or sun. If it’s kept in the sun, the matter will break down more quickly, but will require more watering to keep it moist, so if possible choose the shade to save on water.
Aerate the heap every four to seven days by mixing the material using a garden fork. It takes from three months to a year for the compost to be ready.
Keep in mind
Any organic waste from the household can be used in a compost, but be careful of attracting unwelcome pests such as rats.
It’s best to use a closed composting system and avoid adding cooking oil, dairy and pet droppings to compost.
Your place tight for space? No problem.
If you don’t have room for a full-size compost bin but still want to want to reuse your kitchen scraps – there are plenty of simple and space-friendly options on the market.
Got some Flybuys points you’re wanting to use? The ‘Bokashi One’ Composting System is a great option. These are small bins that break down scraps into a liquid that can be used to feed indoor and balcony plants.
You’ll know when it is ready as finished compost has a crumbly texture; a pleasant earthy smell and most of the ingredients have broken down.
Get All The Dirt on homegrown goodness
Want to learn more about growing your own fruit and veggies and using homegrown produce into the kitchen?
Together Steve and Deryn combine decades of gardening knowledge to present their fortnightly All The Dirt podcast, which explores gardening, food and sustainability with a range of expert guests.
There are more than 100 podcasts covering topics including design and horticulture, the environment and soil and natural science with regular guides on growing home produce and ornamental gardens.
Listen to All The Dirt’s composting podcast for advice on getting started, and keep listening for more DIY tips and discussions on homegrown goodness.