A Beginner’s Guide To Composting
- Written by Alicia Drewnicki
- January 29, 2020
- 4 min read
At Honestly Good, we’re huge composting fans! From banana peel, to avocado stones, to apple cores – all the food waste that comes from preparing our smoothies is either used to develop by-products (such as banana peel chutney), or taken to be composted at a nearby allotment. Shout-out to Will at our local allotment in Luton who gladly receives a huge portion of our fruit and veg waste each week, and makes sure it goes back into the soil to nourish his own fruit and veg growth.
Whether you’re a seasoned composting fan, or you’re looking for some tips, here’s an Honestly Good Guide to composting.
1) What Is Composting?
Composting, in its simplest term, is a way of transforming both kitchen and garden waste into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner.
2) Why Is It Good To Compost?
One of the biggest reasons we love composting is because it’s an environmentally-friendly way to deal with food waste that stops food waste ending up in landfill. It also helps create something amazing that can be fed back to the earth at the end – a fantastic nutrient-rich soil conditioner.
According to Recycle Now, “composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces over three months.” Also, even if you’re into composting, there’s still more to learn as “even for households that are already composting, new research has found that almost half of the food waste in their rubbish bins could have been composted.”
3) If I add food waste to my black bin, won’t it reduce down in landfill anyway?
No, sadly not. The problem with landfill is that there is no air to circulate and help organic matter decompose, so harmful greenhouse gases, like methane are produced as the matter breaks down. Alarmingly, methane is 21 times more potent than CO2 and increases the rate of climate change and global warming.
4) How do I get started with composting?
Firstly, you need to get compost bin, or even an open wooden cube-style composter.
The perfect position is on a level surface, that’s well-drained, and has an earth base (so there’s access to worms and other soil organisms), however, it can still be done on a hard surface too. Ideally, dry and shady spots are better. Bins are usually more effective as they retain heat and moisture better, and keep rain out, but open heaps are still effective too, and can be easier to load up.
5) Are there any ‘golden rules’ to composting?
Composting is all about balance. You need to have equal parts ‘greens’ and ‘browns’.
– Greens: These are soft, moist ingredients, that are usually high in nitrogen. They include fruit or veg waste, coffee grounds, or grass clippings.
– Browns: These are drier, more fibrous items such as branches, twigs, wood chippings, cardboard, or dead leaves.
If the compost heap looks a bit on the wet side, add more ‘browns’ to the mix. If it’s too dry, add some ‘greens’. This balance is essential as the micro-organisms and bacteria that produce compost, work best when the levels are about 50:50.
It’s also important to make sure that air gets into the mixture. A quick hack for this is the add scrunched up cardboard pieces, which in turn creates little pockets of air.
Regularly turning the mix with a pitchfork also helps to aerate the heap, and help it compost quicker.
6) What can I put on my compost heap?
Coffee filter paper
Vacuum cleaner lint
7) What should I not put on my compost heap?
Weeds that have gone to seed (as the temperatures of the compost may not be hot enough to kill them, so the weeds may spread)
Glossy magazines/paper (these can contain chemicals that stop decomposition)
8) Can I speed up composting?
Keeping the ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ balanced, and regular turning can help speed things up. Other things you can do include shredding matter before you put it on the compost. You can also look into getting some compost activator that are high in nitrogen.
9) Why do I need to turn my compost heap?
Turning the heap introduces air, which helps speed up the rate of decomposition. Ideally turning should happen at least once a month.
So there you have it, a beginner’s guide to composting. We love how it’s possible to turn food waste into something valuable, and nourishing for the earth. If you’ve got any tips we haven’t covered, feel free to let us know…