Composting and worm farming are great ways to dispose of your food waste. Not only are you reducing the amount of rubbish going to landfill, you’re creating fertiliser.
Composting – 4 easy steps
- Choose the site
The ideal location for a compost bin has sun, good drainage and some shade in summer.
- What to compost
Compost a mix of different materials, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, green garden waste like fresh grass clippings, green leaves and weeds. Add some dry leaves, woody twigs, paper and straw. You’ll also need to add some water.
To build the perfect compost, start with a thick layer (15cm) of twigs or coarse mulch. This will help with drainage. Then add a thin layer of kitchen and green organics. Cover with a layer of brown garden organics ensuring no food waste is left exposed. Moisten well. Repeat. Sprinkle soil or finished compost on top of food scraps to make a richer compost and help minimise odours.
- Maintaining your compost
It is important to add air to the compost so it doesn’t smell. This can be done by turning it with a garden fork.
Your compost should be ready to use in just 8 weeks.
What you can compost
√ Fruit and vegetable peelings, newspapers, grass clippings, weeds, tea leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, old potting mix, dead flowers, human and animal hair.
What you can't compost
X Dairy products, meat or seafood.
How to use compost
Mulch around trees with compost to encourage healthy plant growth. Don’t place compost too close to the trunk.
Compost can be applied twice a year to native plants and sifted compost can be used as a top dressing for lawns.
Use sifted compost for potting mix and seed raising mix. Woody leftovers can be used for mulch or composted again.
Worm farming – 4 easy steps
- Choose the site
Worms don’t like to get too hot, so make sure your worm farm is in a well shaded spot.
- Collecting worm food
Worms like to eat food waste like vegetable and fruit peelings, pulp from the juicer, tea bags, crushed egg shells and bread. They also like small amounts of paper and cardboard, such as shredded egg cartons. Worms find smaller scraps easier and quicker to digest. Blend food scraps with water before feeding worms.
- Making a worm farm or bed
You can buy a commercial worm farm, build one with boxes or make a worm bed in your garden. Typical dimensions for a worm box are 30cm deep, 60cm wide and 90cm long. The box must have holes in the base for good drainage and to allow in air. The box should have a lid or be covered with hessian or underfelt; and a base or tray underneath to catch liquid.
A combination of finished compost, leaves and paper works best as bedding. The bedding should be torn and shredded so the worms can move around easily. The bedding material should be soaked in water before placing it in the box. The bedding layer should be 10-15cm deep.
Add 1,000 to 2,000 worms and spread out gently on the surface, allowing them to burrow down. Worms can be bought direct from commercial worm growers or through your local nursery.
Start adding kitchen waste regularly in small amounts. Cover food waste with bedding material or a handful of soil or compost. Only give the worms more food when they have eaten most of the previous meal.
- Harvesting worms
Harvest the worm castings/compost by moving it all to one side of the bin. Add fresh bedding to the empty side. Many of the worms will migrate to the fresh bedding in a few days. The valuable worm castings can then be taken and used. The liquid produced by your worm farm is full of nutrients – dilute and use on your pot plants.
√ Moisture, shade, drainage, cover.
Worms don't like:
X Acidic foods such as citrus peels or onions.