Composting is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your vegetable garden. It adds worms, soil structure, nutrients and, microbial goodness just name a few. 

It is also something that many people think they need to spend a heap of money to get a fancy system. I am pleased to tell you that you don’t. You can start composting with what you have if you know how. 

I want to outline the ‘rules’ of composting first so you understand what is happening to your food scraps. If you were to just throw your vegetable scraps in a heap and leave them they would rot, stink and attract pests. 

Once you know the rules you can choose the best system for your situation. 

Compost Rules

1. Balance

Life is all about balance and your compost is the same. Compost is made up of nitrogen-based goodies, often referred to as greens, and carbon-based additions that are often called browns.

Nitrogen is what provides the proteins, acids, and enzymes needed for breaking down matter. 

Carbon provides both energy and the structure of the compost. 

There is a lot of science behind composting and correct ratios but I have always gone for a 60% nitrogen to 40% carbon split. You can always put more of either in there later if you need to adjust the balance. 

2. No Meat or Dairy

These items will rot and cause your compost to become a hot maggoted stinky mess. But the good news is you don’t have to bin them. 

You can add these to your ecosystem by burying them in the garden where they aren’t exposed to air and are safe from being dug up by your family pet. They will break down over time and add more nutrients to your soil.  There is also a way you can ferment these before adding them to your gardenˆ.

3. Air and Moisture

Your compost needs both to allow the microbes, worms, and bacteria to do their job. 

Moisture should be so you can pick up a handful and squeeze only 1 or 2 drops out. Any more and it’s too wet and you need to put more air in and any less you need to give it a drink. 

Airflow can be a simple as moving your compost around. If it’s a pile you can turn it over with any garden tool you have like a garden fork or spade. You can also add in an air pipe. An old piece of pipe with holes put into the middle of the pile will help. 

4. Monitor

Check your compost when you check your vegetable garden. It is a living organism and needs to be tended for it to produce rich humus. (not to be confused with Hommus).

Now you know the basics you just need to choose the best system for your living situation.

Here is a brief overview of various compost systems

    Worm Farm System


    • Small cost to start
    • Worms needed
    • Can DIY 
    • Good for small gardens
    • Shaded spot needed
    • Vegetables only
    • Medium composting speed
    • Added benefit of worm castings and liquid fertilizer.
    • Fun

      Compost Bin/Cold Compost


      • Cost to start up or can DIY own bin
      • Sun or shaded area
      • Good for medium to larger gardens
      • Good for bigger items
      • Needs soil area to sit on
      • Can attract rodents if not meshed
      • Slowest composting speed
      • Minimal maintenance

        Hot Composting


        • No cost
        • Sunny area ideal 
        • Large garden
        • Need materials to make 3ft cube pile
        • Fastest outdoor system
        • Sterilises weed seeds & disease
        • Short term – no adding to the pile
        • Needs hands on for a month
        • Great for large quantities of waste

          Bokashi Style Fermenting System*

           

          • Higher cost to setup
          • Can DIY bucket
          • Ongoing cost to buy microbe bran 
          • Indoor benchtop system
          • Add meat and dairyˆ
          • No nitrogen : carbon ratio needed
          • Fastest method
          • Small quantities
          • Add & forget system
          • No pests

          *Bokashi means to ferment. This is not a true compost system but it does allow you to process your kitchen waste in a way that it can be added to your vegetable garden where it will then start to compost in situ. 

          Now you know the fundamentals of composting and have an understanding of the different types of systems you can choose what will work for your unique situation. 

          If you would like more information subscribe to the Weekly SoH Simple Tip email and follow and share on Instagram and Facebook @sohfarmlet. 

          Happy Composting!

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