Five Steps to Composting Success

Step 1 – Choose the Right Composter For You

Before choosing the size of your composter estimate how much organic waste you will be generating on a regular basis. If you have a medium or large lawn and intend to put the grass clippings in together with all your organic household waste, a large composter is probably for you. If you will just be disposing of your day to day kitchen waste, a smaller composter combined with an indoor Bokashi unit may better suit your needs

The next consideration in your choice of composter is whether to get a stand-alone model or one that rotates. Tumbling composters, like this compost tumbler,  while generally smaller in volume produce compost in a shorter amount of time. Stand alone composters, like this compost bin, on the other hand, while generally able to accommodate larger volumes of organic waste, can take up to twice as long to produce usable compost. They also require manual mixing on a semi regular basis

Once you have decided on the size and type of composter best suited to your needs, you will need to find a good location in your yard. Ideally try to find a sunny spot that will allow for easy access. Direct sunlight increases the rate at which organic waste decomposes into compost. If possible your stand alone composters should rest on bare soil to allow interactions with microorganisms and worms.

Step 2 – Collect Your Kitchen Waste

Most organic waste can be put into a compost bin (see exceptions below). We recommend using a kitchen caddy to collect your organic waste. This not only avoids unwanted mess and odours but reduces the number of trips you will need to make to the outdoor composter.

We have a few different models of kitchen compost bins available, check out our kitchen compost bins section for options.

It is common practice to use biodegradable compostable bags with indoor compost caddies, so kitchen waste can be disposed straight to your outdoor compost bin or mixed with garden soil. Our compostable bags are starch based and begin to decompose once added to the outdoor composter.

It is usually better to avoid adding cooked food, meat, or fish directly into your outdoor composter. These items tend to fester and attract unwanted pests and vermin. For further instructions on what to compost, please see our ‘What Can You Compost‘ guide.

Using a kitchen compost bin together with some Bokashi additives is a better option in this case. Bokashi grains or liquid Bokashi can be added to the indoor compost bin speed up the composting process. Bokashi products are designed to accelerate the fermentation of organic matter.

Once the kitchen composter is full, the contents can be directly added to the outdoor composter or dug directly into the soil. The Bokashi microbes will continue to do their work even after this is done.

Step 3 – Fill Up Your Composter

Once your kitchen caddy or indoor composter is full you will need to transfer the contents to your outdoor composter. When adding organic waste to your composter it is important to try and get a good mixture of “brown” and “green” waste. Examples of “green” waste include food scraps, vegetable cuttings, freshly cut grass. Examples of “brown” waste include dried leaves, dead grass, newspaper cuttings, egg cartons.The aim is to get a mixture whose consistency is neither too wet nor too dry.

Don’t forget to mix the contents of the composter periodically. For stand alone composters this will involve manually mixing the contents with a pitch fork or compost aerator. For tumblers you will just need to give the unit a turn every few days.

Step 4 – Let Your Compost Mature

The time it takes for compost to mature varies widely. Factors such as volume of waste, composition of waste, moisture content of waste, frequency of aeration, and external temperature/weather (just to name a few) all contribute to your composter’s overall curing time. There are, however, several things you can do to help move the maturation process along.

  1. Place the composter in a position in which it is likely to receive the most sunshine. The extra thermal energy will increase the rate at which the chemical reactions that break down your organic waste take place.
  2. Aerate your compost on a regular basis. Your outdoor composter relies on microbes and bacteria to break down your organic waste. These organisms require oxygen to carry out their jobs. The more you aerate your compost, the happier your microbes will be.
  3. Keep the moisture in the compost pile ‘just right’ – Your compost your compost should not be too dry or too wet. If your compost is too dry just add a little water. If it is too wet add some “brown” waste such as dead leaves, dead grass, newspaper etc.
  4. Try and add material to the compost bin that is in small pieces. If you can reduce the size of the material you put in your composter (e.g. chopping up loose kitchen scraps, shredding garden waste) you will increase the area exposed to the microbes and thereby decrease the time required to break the matter down.

Step 5 – Use Your Compost

Once your compost has turned into a dark crumbly material with a natural earthy smell it is ready to use.

The method of collection will differ depending on the type of composter you have. For stand alone composters you will typically retrieve the compost through a hatch/s at the bottom of the unit. For tumbling composters you can empty the compost directly onto the ground or into a bucket.

In either case, the compost you retrieve can easily be mixed together into the soil. The same applies to pot plants and vertical gardens. A light watering to help the compost set and you are done.