Composting is a great way to turn your organic waste into useful material for your garden. Many people compost their food waste and their green waste at home, or even at work. But it can be tough to know where to start, and exactly how to compost green waste. This guide will help make the process much smoother, whether that’s at home or at work.
What is green waste?
Green waste is a broad term given to any kind of organic waste that is naturally biodegradable. Homes and businesses produce all kinds of green waste daily, but much of this waste ends up in the bin, and then landfills. On the other hand, composting green waste is a much more environmentally friendly solution.
Green waste generally includes items like:
- Grass clippings
- Other plant matter
- Certain paper products (not cardboard)
- Compostable bags
- Compostable coffee cups
- Fruit and vegetables
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags
- Other food waste.
What is composting?
Composting is the act of breaking down green waste into compost. Over time, and in the right conditions, the items we mentioned in the previous section will decompose. Eventually, once they have decomposed completely, they will become compost. Healthy compost is a light brown colour, similar in look to loose soil. It should smell earthy and fresh.
Compost itself is a natural material that can be used in gardening as a plant fertiliser, and is a fantastic addition to any budding garden. There are a few things you’ll need if you’re thinking about how to compost green waste at home or at work.
What is the best way to compost green waste?
Composting can be done without a bin, but a sturdy compost bin will make life easier. You will need to start your compost pile (or place your waste container) on bare earth because this allows worms and other organisms to access the compost. They are vital for the health of your compost. If you are composting in an apartment building or small unit, an outdoor bokashi composting bin is a great option.
The easiest process to follow is to collect your compostable waste in a smaller bin inside your home or workplace. When this fills up, take the waste out to your larger bin or pile, and simply throw the organic matter in. It’s important to make sure that everyone in your household or workplace understands what can and cannot go in the compost bin.
What do I put in my compost bin to start?
Before you add any green waste, lay down straw or twigs to form a base for drainage and aeration. Once this has been placed on the bare earth, you can begin to add your green waste. The best system is to alternate between moist and dry waste, to ensure that there is enough moisture throughout the bin or compost pile.
Adding manure is necessary once you’ve started to compost your green waste. Manure is a source of nitrogen, which speeds up the process of composting. The pile must remain moist, so as you add more green matter, feel free to add water or let the rain add moisture.
The final important step is to continue to turn your compost, at least once every couple of weeks. This aerates the decomposing matter, allowing oxygen to move throughout the pile. As you continue to turn the compost, add more green waste. If you continue to follow these steps, eventually you’ll have fresh, nutrient-rich compost for your garden.
What are 3 things you shouldn’t compost?
There are plenty of items and materials that you shouldn’t compost, primarily because they will not decompose. Plastic is the big one, but others are less clear-cut. It’s really important that if you’re taking the next step to finding out how to compost green waste, you fully understand what can’t go in the compost bin.
- Meat scraps can’t be placed in your compost bin. This is because they decompose very slowly, create a bad smell, and will likely attract rodents.
- Diseased plant matter and weeds that have been killed with chemicals should be avoided. This is because the compost will inevitably be used in your garden in the future, and if contaminated, might kill your plants.
- Dairy products like cheese and milk will also create a foul smell. Again, this is likely to bring rats and mice to your bin, something that must be avoided.
For larger items such as twigs, branches and timber, consider hiring a green waste skip bin to dispose of your unwanted items.
How can you use compost?
Once your compost is ready, it’s like a health kick for your garden! Compost contains a huge range of nutrients for your plants, so they’ll be sure to love it. Simply mix the compost with the soil in your garden bed (or fresh soil), mix it with potting soil for your pot plants, or spread it over the top of your garden as is.
What are the benefits of composting?
Composting your green waste comes with plenty of benefits, for both you and your garden. If you learn how to compost green waste, you’ll experience some (if not all) of the below.
- It’s great for the environment. Recycling your green waste is a huge win for sustainability. Instead of sending organic waste to a landfill, you’ll be making sure it decomposes naturally and isn’t becoming waste. Then, it can be used in your garden, completing the natural cycle, so to speak.
- It’s great for the garden. Compost is like a superfood for your garden, promoting growth and healthy soil. It also helps to conserve water by adding a further source of moisture to your garden bed.
- It prevents soil erosion. Adding compost to your garden is adding volume, replacing soil that may have been washed away by rain or worn away by the wind.
- It saves money. If you’re working on your garden, you may well have to spend money to buy bags of compost or nutrient-rich mix from the local nursery. However, if you have your own compost bin or pile, you’ll be able to make use of this matter, saving you money.
Are there any downsides to composting?
If you’re learning how to compost green waste, it’s important to be aware of the potential downsides. The good news is that there aren’t many, and the ones present won’t be too much of a problem. In fact, they’re barely even ‘downsides’.
The most common downsides to composting are:
- The smell. A properly sealed compost bin shouldn’t cause any issues at all and keeping your compost bin away from the house helps. However, you might get a whiff of decomposing matter when you open the lid!
- Rodents and insects. Compost bins can attract unwanted visitors, especially if the wrong matter is put into the bin. Make sure your bin is sealed, and keep an eye out for any rats, mice, or cockroaches. If you do spot them, you might need to change your process
It’s quite clear that the benefits of composting far outweigh the downsides!
If you’re keen to learn how to compost green waste and start your own composting bin at home or work, we say go for it! Your garden, and the environment at large, will thank you for it.