The Compost Diet

This week let’s look at what materials to put in your compost bin and how they’ll break down to make finished compost. If you missed the first post in our composting series, catch up here.

Your compost bin has simple needs for a balanced diet: 50% green (or wet) materials and 50% brown (or dry) materials. Green materials are rich in nitrogen and brown materials are rich in carbon; both essential for healthy, productive soil.

Here’s a list of some of the right stuff to put in:

Green/Wet

  • Fruit peelings and skins
  • Vegetable peelings
  • Grass cuttings
  • House plants
  • Cut or dead flowers

Brown/Dry

  • Toilet roll tubes
  • Cardboard egg cartons
  • Shredded cardboard and paper
  • Egg shells (although these can also be crushed and used as slug repellent around seedlings)
  • Twigs
  • Leaves

A few materials to avoid are:

  • Cooked food, meat and fish – these might attract rodents
  • Diseased plants
  • Weed roots and seeds
  • Any inorganic materials such as plastics or metals

Now enter nature’s super recycler: the tiger worm (or for those of us who pride ourselves on speaking a wee bit of Latin, Eisenia fetida).

 

Tiger worms on compost heap

A healthy compost heap is teaming with life. You’ll mainly find tiger worms in there which look different to earth worms, mostly because they have stripes. Tiger worms thrive in dark, moist and nutrient rich environments, feeding on decomposing organic materials which is what makes them the perfect mini recyclers.

Take a moment to imagine what paradise looks like to you. Now consider this: your compost bin is to tiger worms what your vision of paradise is to you. Sounds perfect, right? Well, it is – build it and they will come!

And, they’re not only hard-working, they’re also really fun. You’ll notice that your tiger worms love to wrestle…

 

Tiger worms on compost heap

And also play hide and seek inside egg shells. ‘Found you!’

 

Tiger worms and composted eggshells

Wow, that’s amazing. So don’t waste any more time – get going setting up your compost heap. And to get you off to a crackin’ start, here are a few top tips to keep you right:

  • Add both food and garden waste to your compost bin. Food waste – such as fruit and vegetable peelings – is packed with nutrients and will attract tiger worms more effectively than garden waste only.
  • Don’t scrunch toilet roll tubes or cardboard egg boxes as they will create natural air pockets and help keep plenty of oxygen circulating in your compost heap.
  • Used coffee grounds don’t need to be composted. They can be dug into your soil and will provide quick nutrients for your plants.

Next time, join me to find out how to know when your finished compost is ready to be dug back into your garden and how to rescue your compost heap if it’s not looking too healthy.

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One thought on “The Compost Diet

  1. Reblogged this on Farewell My Manicure! and commented:
    After my post on worm farming last week I thought that those of you who are interested in getting started would find this is some really great info about what to put in your compost heap so it thrives. It is reblogged from Recycle for Aberdeen, but is just as pertinent here in Australia. Enjoy!

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