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  • Caryn Zinn

Composting bins: everything you need to know

Getting Started: Choose a sunny spot in your garden and place your bin directly on the soil then layer twigs at the base to promote good air flow. Your compost will be made of ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ and they each serve an important role in the process! ‘Greens’ are organic waste full of nitrogen and are usually fresh, soft, and moist rotting and putrefying quickly. Good ‘greens’ are food waste and lawn clippings. ‘Greens’ should make up 30% of your compost bin. ‘Browns’ on the other hand are organic waste full of carbon and are usually dry and brittle, because they are relatively nitrogen free, they take longer to break down. Good ‘browns’ are Fallen autumn leaves, paper and cardboard, and dry “browned-off” lawn clippings.

Get Composting: Now that you have your bin set up and know what you should put in to create compost you can begin making your compost sandwich! To create the perfect compost sandwich, follow these steps:

Balance your compost right so that you have 30% green and 70% brown. Start the sandwich with a base layer of browns.

Next, evenly spread a green layer (your sandwich filling). This layer should be the same thickness as your brown base layer.

You can mix these two layers together to spread decomposition if you like. Finally, top your sandwich off with a layer of browns. This will help to reduce odour and flies.

Feeding Your Compost: Keep adding greens and browns to your compost bin regularly and in layers like a sandwich. Remember, your compost should be moist, so add water to any dry materials and cover them to trap the moisture. Finally, don’t forget air flow. There should be plenty air flow around and within your heap.

Harvesting Your Compost: When? Compost is ready to harvest when it is sweet, dark, and crumbly, and you cannot distinguish the original materials. This usually takes at least 3-6 months.

How? From the bottom up. Harvest the bottom 1/3 of your compost by slipping the bin off the heap and moving it to another area of your garden. Now you can take the top 2/3 of compost and place in back in your bin.

Do’s and Don’ts : Do mix the top promote air flow layers regularly to Add Bokashi solids to the green layer of your bin.

Don’t mix the composted material at the base with the fresh waste at the top Don’t add animal faeces, cooked or processed foods, nappies, invasive weeds, disposable coffee cups or any liquid other than water.

If you want more assistance with composting, or are involved with a community group, contact a composting tutor via the Compost Collective

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