What is the right way to compost? Questions and answers about composting.
When choosing a location, ensure that your composter is easy to access from the house and garden. Think of your neighbours and install it at least 0.5 m away from their property. Install your composter directly on the ground. This allows microorganisms to access your composter. You should fit grating (accessory) on the base of your composter to protect against rodents. Loosen compressed ground before installing. Concrete, stone and asphalt bases are not suitable under your composter.
The contents will rot in no time if you install the composter in the sun or semi-shade. The composter needs the heat of the sun to evaporate water from its contents, but it mustn't dry out completely. It should be installed in a position protected from the worst of the wind but not without any wind — air movement is important for the supply of fresh air.
When first filling, use a bulky structured material, such as broken twigs, to form the bottom layer. This makes it easier for air to enter the compost from below and excess water can drain off better. Ensure as good a mix of garden and kitchen waste as possible in the layers that follow. If you have any active compost, this can be added to the bottom layer.
The better the compost is mixed, the easier and better it rots. You shouldn't fill the composter in one go. Instead, fill it slowly with organic waste produced on a daily basis. Kitchen waste has a high water content. Ensure good aeration – a sufficient supply of oxygen is very important. Wet materials should be mixed with dry ones and coarse materials with fine ones. Remember: Your composter isn't a rubbish heap you can throw anything onto without consideration. If it is to fulfil its function, you must selectively add raw materials.
Fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds, tea leaves, eggshell (crushed), pot plants, cut flowers, spent potting soil, lawn cuttings and leaves. Tip: Wet materials should be mixed with dry ones and coarse materials with fine ones. If well aerated, there is nothing to stop you producing good compost. Ensure that the compost is damp. Compost mustn't be too dry or too wet!
Meat, fish, leftover food, bread, sausage, cheese rind, bones, diseased plants, coal or charcoal ash, cigarettes, hoover bags, litter, medicines and nutshells.
You can compost in the winter too. In order to perfectly compost wet kitchen waste produced in the winter, the dry leaves and shredded garden waste collected in the autumn should be added to the compost. The contents of the composter break down slower during the cold winter months.
You can use the cress test to determine when your compost is ready.
1. Fill a 1/3 of a jar with compost, scatter cress seeds over it, water gently and put on the lid
2. See how the plants grow
3. If the plants turn green and the roots are white, the compost is ready to use. If the plants are brown, it isn't ready yet.