What do you do with your food scraps? Food sent to landfill contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions, so setting up a compost bin can be well worth the effort for eco-conscious households and families. On top of helping you reduce food waste even further, it can help improve the soil quality of your garden and save you money on fertiliser! But there are some important factors to consider before you start your own home compost.
How do you use a compost bin?
Food scraps and vegetable waste can be composted at home to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. While the process will vary depending on the type of compost bin you set up for your home, the basic how-to of composting is:
- Collect your food scraps and vegetable waste
- Add a layer of brown matter to the bin – leaves, straw, or wood chips
- Add a layer of food scraps and vegetable waste
- Continue layering brown matter and food scraps until the bin is full
- Cover the bin with a lid or plastic sheet
- Turn the compost every few days
- Wait for the compost to "ripen", becoming dark and crumbly. This takes around 6 months in cooler weather or 3 months in warmer weather
Once your compost is ‘ripe’, it’s ready to use in your garden!
What type of compost bin is best?
The best type of compost bin depends on your home. If you have access to your own yard, composting is definitely worth it! But it’s still possible even if you live in an apartment.
A continuous compost bin is one that you can add to all the time. Simply toss your food or garden scraps into the enclosed bin at the top, and when the finished compost is ready it can be removed from the bottom compartment. Continuous compost is a great option for beginners with space in the backyard.
Batch or spinning compost bins prepare one ‘batch’ at a time. You fill them up at once with brown matter and scraps, and turn with the handle daily. This method is faster, with the compost ready in just weeks, but it requires more maintenance and you’ll need to store scraps for the next batch while the current one is cooking.
Indoor compost bins are perfect for apartments or small homes. They make much smaller batches, but the compost can be used for houseplants or a veggie patch!
How often should I turn compost?
Turning your compost helps to aerate it, introducing the oxygen that the bacteria needs to thrive and break down the plant matter.
Continuous composts should be turned ideally once a week, while batch compost bins need to be turned every day.
The weather also influences how often you need to tend to your compost bin. Colder climates need more frequent turning to prevent frost killing the bacteria, while hotter climates don’t require as much attention.
Do compost bins attract rats or pests?
A good composting technique will keep your bin fresh and pest-free. Be sure to keep your compost bin firmly sealed to prevent rats, mice or pests being attracted to your pile. A proper turning schedule also stops the compost smelling, which also helps keep pests away.
Is a compost bin worth it?
If you can commit to the maintenance and choose the right type for your household, setting a compost bin at home is definitely worth it! Diverting food scraps from landfill helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and your garden, veggie patch or indoor plants will thank you for the mostly-free fertiliser.