How Does Composting Works?

Composting is the decomposition of materials that originated from animals and plants. These organic materials can be things such as plant trimmings, vegetable cuttings, eggshells and teabags. The composting process produces a dark, crumbly matter that can be used as fertilizer in garden soil. The main stages of composting are:

  • Adding organic materials to a compost bin

  • Micro-organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, break down the soft material.
  • This causes the compost pile to heat to around 143°F (60°C). This is the ideal temperature for micro-organisms to work at.
  • The compost pile then cools to below 89°F (30°C).
  • Small creatures such as worms and insects then break down the tougher material.
  • The whole process usually takes about 3 – 9 months, and results in a nutrient-rich fertilizer to use in your garden.
  • The compost that is ready to use can be taken from the bottom of the pile, leaving the rest to finish the process.

How Do You Build a Compost Bin?

  • You can buy a compost bin or build your own. Compost bins are usually sold at DIY and gardening stores.
  • Build a compost bin by creating a frame out of wood and attach it to the ground using posts.
  • Your compost bin should be able to hold about 200-300 liters, try and use a bin with a lid to keep out the rain.
  • The compost bin should be placed in a well-lit and well-drained area of the garden.
  • Try and keep the compost bin out of the wind.
  • Improve drainage by breaking up the soil underneath the compost bin.

What & What Not to Add

  • Hair and fur
  • Shredded paper
  • Straw and hay
  • Animal bedding and sawdust
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Grass and plant cuttings
  • Raw fruit and vegetable trimmings
  • Teabags and coffee granules
  • Horse manure
  • Leaves
  • Alive earthworms
  • Meat or fish
  • Coal ash
  • Animal waste
  • Nappies and used tissues
  • Dairy products
  • Cooked foods
  • Colored or treated paper
  • Chemically treated wood
  • Diseased plants
  • Persistent weeds