Composting turns organic materials into a rich garden fertiliser.

How to use a compost bin? Recycling your food waste video transcript

What you can add to your compost:

  • leaves
  • grass
  • cow, horse or chicken manure
  • fruit and veggie scraps
  • coffee grounds
  • tea bags
  • hair from your brush or comb
  • seaweed
  • sawdust (non-treated)
  • wood shavings (non-treated)
  • hay and straw
  • vacuum cleaner dust
  • shredded paper
  • newspaper
  • egg shells

What you can’t add to your compost:

  • fats and oils
  • meat products
  • dairy products
  • cat or dog faeces
  • any inorganic materials

How to make a compost

  • Choose a warm position outside where the compost heap or bin has direct contact with dirt or soil.
  • Place twigs at the bottom to help with drainage and airflow – either in a special compost bin or in an enclosure you make yourself.
  • Place your organic waste on top of the twigs.
  • Keep your compost moist with water or tea and coffee leftovers.
  • Aerate your compost with a garden fork or compost turner to let air flow in.
  • Keep your compost covered to make sure it doesn’t dry out or get too soggy if it rains.

The easiest way to produce successful compost is to follow the A.D.A.M. recipe. A.D.A.M describes the four most important elements of composting:

A – Aliveness

Remember that your compost is a living system. If you have bugs and worms living in your compost, then it is working well.

D – Diversity

Compost works well when you have a balance of these materials:

  • compostable green (nitrogen-rich) materials such as leaves, grass, fruit and veggie scraps, and manure (cow, horse or chicken)
  • compostable brown (carbon-rich) materials such as dried leaves and grass clippings, sawdust, hay, straw and egg shells.

A – Air

Turn your compost every few weeks so there is plenty of air moving around. This keeps the smell away and helps material break down quickly.

M – Moisture

Compost works best when it is damp but not wet.

Compost trouble shooting

Problem Solution
Waste not breaking down
  • Add water
  • Add equal amounts of vegetable scraps or fresh lawns clippings with fallen leaves or straw
  • Turn more often
  • Punch holes in your bin for better air circulation
  • Add wood ash or dolomite to neutralise the heap
  • Turn more regularly
  • Rebuild with some dry materials
  • Cover organic waste with a layer of soil
  • Avoid meat or dairy products
Too wet
  • Improve drainage under the heap
  • Mix in some dry ‘brown’ materials like shredded newspaper or hay
Rats or mice
  • Cover each organic layer with soil and place the bin on a layer of fine mesh
  • Always keep the lid on