So you want to do your bit and set up a compost, but are worried it could be a bit complicated and are not quite sure where to start?
Composting is much easier - and cleaner - than you think. The key is finding the set up that works best for your household.
Firstly, why is composting so important?
Food waste makes up more than one third of contents in the average Aussie household rubbish bin.
Food scraps thrown in your bin not only take up valuable landfill space, when they break down they can create greenhouse gases - including methane - which affect air quality.
Composting is an environmentally friendly way to dispose of your food scraps. It recycles organic waste into rich fertiliser that can be used to feed your garden and grow you own food.
Four tried-and-tested composting systems
We spoke to four local people with different composting systems to find out what they saw as the pros and cons of each.
Anika's compost tumbler
How it works: "I bought a twin-chamber compost tumbler. All I
do is throw in my 'green' organic waste - anything except onion, garlic, citrus
peels, meat and dairy - and 'brown' organic material, such as leaves, cardboard
and wood chips.
I aim for a 50/50 mix of each and make sure it stays
moist. I use the handle to give it a quick stir every time I throw my
scraps in, and once the first chamber is full, I start using the second
chamber. The organic matter turns into compost within months.
place a bucket underneath to empty the compost into when it's ready. It's
super easy - especially for beginners like me - and I like that it's all
contained so my dog can't get to it."
Cost: Around $200
The pros and cons for Anika
- Clean and contained.
- Easy to use.
- Plenty of room for our food
- Comes flat packed so some
- Decent purchase cost.
Alan's DIY compost
How it works: "All I did was section off a square area in my backyard
using scrap materials such as star pickets, timber boards and chicken
You need to make sure the compost isn't fully enclosed as air needs
to get into it. We throw all of our fruit and veg scraps in -
except for onion and lemon - as well as leaves, paper and dirt.
it every now and then in the warmer weather to make sure it stays moist and use
a shovel to turn it over ever few weeks. Once a year I empty it all out -
except for the top layer - mix it up with soil and spread it out over my plants.
We've had this set up for over 30 years now; it's low maintenance and works
well for us."
Cost: Little to no cost (can be made from scrap
The pros and cons for Alan
- Little to no cost to set
- Not limited by space to add
- Fairly low maintenance.
- Compost/soil can be heavy
to manually turn over.
- Compost is exposed, so pets
mat get in.
Bonnie's multi-tiered worm farm
How it works: "We put the worms into the bottom
layer of the worm farm and left off the other levels to start off with.
We started adding our food scraps to the bottom level. Once the layer was full,
the next layer was added and the worms gradually made their way up into this
area as we started to add food scraps.
Once the very top layer is full, the
bottom layer is then taken out and tipped onto the garden. This layer stays off
until the other layers are full.
This cycle repeats itself. We're new to
composting but have found the worm farm to be clean and low
Cost: $140 ($90 for worm farm and $50 for worms)
The pros and cons for Bonnie
- Clean and contained.
- Easy to use.
- Tap at the bottom gives you
'worm wee', which is also good for your garden.
- Space is limited so
there are times when we can't put our weekly scraps into the worm farm.
- The 'moisture mat' used
to cover food scraps requires replacing every so often, as it can get
mouldy and fall apart
Amy's Bokashi Bucket
How it works: "The Bokashi Bucket sits on my
bench and I add my food scraps - even meat.
Every time I put food scraps
in I push it down with a potato masher, sprinkle a couple of handfuls of the
Bokashi bran and make sure the lid is put tightly back on.
Every few days I use
the tap to collect the liquid in a bucket, dilute it with water and pour it
over my plants.
When the bucket is full, I leave it for three weeks, then
I dig a small trench and bury it in my garden. I have two buckets on the go at
once, so one can be fermenting while I fill up the other one with food
It took me some time to get it working well, but I've got the
hang of it now and hardly have anything going to landfill which is great."
Cost: $60 for each bucket and Bokashi bran is around
$18 a bag.
The pros and cons for Amy
- Doesn't need much room -
can sit on your bench.
- It takes food scraps
including cooked and uncooked meat and fish.
- There's no need to add
extra material like paper or leaves.
- Space is limited - can fill
- You need to keep stocking
up on Bokashi bran and be careful to keep air out as much as possible.