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How to make a compost bin

Why start one?

Your garden will love it and plants thrive from compost. It is a natural fertiliser.

Last year Australia generated 5.3 million tonnes of food waste. That’s $8 billion worth of food that we sent into landfill, which then undergoes anaerobic decomposition to generate methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. When released into the atmosphere, methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. 

The reason a compost bin works so well is because methane-producing microbes are not active in the presence of oxygen. It also enriches the soil and encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter.

 

What you will need:

  • A container/bin with a lid to keep the compost moist.
    The bin should be big enough to allow you to ‘turn’ the compost with a shovel or pitchfork, as this promotes aeration and speeds composting.

We use an old city council bin dug into the ground. You can use most types of wood, just don’t use plywood as it will split into layers from the moisture.

  • Browns – such as:
    • dead leaves 
    • animal manure (no cat or dog manure)
    • straw or hay
    • branches (make sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded)
    • twigs 
    • dryer lint (make sure you check the packaging first to see if it is biodegradable)
    • napkins
    • coffee filters
  • Greens – such as:
    • grass clippings 
    • vegetable waste 
    • fruit scraps 
    • coffee grounds
    • egg shells
    • weeds that haven’t seeded
    • seaweed

Do not add meat scraps or bones.

  • Water – make sure you keep your compost moist. It heaps speed up the composting decomposition process. 
  • Helpful ‘compost activators’ are optional extras, but not 100% necessary.
    • Composting worms – red worms work best
    • Putting all your leaves and twigs through a shredder

Important information to know

You should have more browns than greens in your compost bin. If you find that your compost pile is not heating up, then you may need to add more green material to the compost. If you find that your compost pile is starting to smell, you may need to add more browns.

If you turn your pile frequently, you may produce compost in one month. If you turn your pile once in a while, you may produce compost in 3-6 months.

Recycling Sustainability

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