How to start composting? (A beginner's guide)

Welcome to the second post of the composting series! Last time we looked at why we should be composting and the benefits of it, in case if you missed it, read it here. Today, we will look at how to compost and what are the available options.

Compost Setup

Ensuring that your setup is well is important, as it can make composting easier, less time consuming and it can guide you to choose the most practical compost system for you and the waste your intend to compost.

First, let us look at what you will need to start composting.

Prepare the following:

  • A dedicated spot for your composting system.

  • A garden fork or stick to turn the compost.

  • Gloves to handle food waste. Ensure the gloves are reusable or use your bare hands, instead.

  • Garden waste and acceptable organic kitchen waste.

How to Compost

There are many systems out there to compost but most can be classified into three categories, namely: a compost heap, vermicomposting, or Bokashi composting.

#1 Compost heap:

  • Place your container on a patch of open soil that will receive half sunlight and half shade during the day. If using a designated garden area, make sure it is an open soil area and secured from dogs and other pets who may dig up the soil.

  • Put down about 200 millimetres (20 centimetres) of mixed organic (garden and kitchen) material into your container or designated garden area. Chop up any big pieces.

  • To make the compost develop faster, you can add a ‘starter,’ such as a bucketful of mature compost, animal manure, or bone meal. You can get 'starters' at nurseries and garden shops.

  • As you produce organic waste from your kitchen or grass cuttings and leaves from your garden, keep on adding that kitchen and/or garden waste to the heap – alternatively if possible. Remember to mix up the material except for the bottom layer. Use soil, dry grass, leaves, or sawdust on top to keep the smells and flies away.

  • After a week, check your compost system – it should feel hot. The heat comes from the oxidisation process and means the waste is decomposing. This is good!

  • Every few weeks you’ll need to mix up your compost to keep it hot. The heat also kills off weed seeds and fly larvae.

For more information on starting a compost heap, refer to Earth Easy's guide, or the Eden Project's tips to make great composting.

#2 Vermicomposting