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Recycling & Composting

How to Compost at Home?

Team Compost Connect, 14 November 2023
How to Compost at Home?

How To Make Compost – Your At Home Guide

Composting isn’t as hard (or as messy) as it’s often believed to be. In fact, composting at home can be simple, fun and rewarding. This article will show you how to make compost at home – from choosing the right bin through to feeding your garden.

The man throws leftover vegetables from the bowl in backyard composter.

How To Make Compost At Home

Composting is the natural recycling of organic waste. It breaks down anything that was recently living (like leaves, food scraps or twigs) and turns it into nutrient-rich fertiliser to improve the quality of your soil and plants.

There are a few steps involved when starting composting – including choosing a method, knowing what to compost and compost bin maintenance.

Let’s dig in.

Choose a Home Composting Method

You should choose a home composting method that suits you best.

Backyard Composting

As the name suggests, this method uses a traditional compost bin or container in your backyard. This method will create a natural decomposition process, breaking down your food and garden waste.

A Backyard Compost Is Good For 

  • Large families or households that create a lot of organic waste
  • Large backyards, allowing you to place your compost bin away from your house
Outdoor composting bin for recycling kitchen and garden organic waste in a lovely lush garden

Vermicomposting (Worm Farm)

This method uses specific worms to break down organic matter and produce valuable worm excrete castings. Just place your organic waste in the vermicompost bin and watch your worms eat their way through it! 

A Vermicompost Is Good For:

  • Those with small backyards or spaces
  • Those who have a moderate amount of organic waste
  • Those who are time-poor (the worms do a lot of the work for you!)
Hand holding worms in a worm composter with food waste

Bokashi Composting

A popular compost option for apartments, bokashi is a Japanese word meaning ‘fermented organic matter.’ Food waste is sealed and fermented with a special mix of bacteria and yeast (often called bokashi bran), which breaks down the organic matter.

A Bokashi Compost Is Good For:

  • Apartments and townhouses
  • Those with no or a small amount of garden waste
  • Those who are willing to buy bokashi bran
Woman composting food leftovers at home. Female recycling organic waste in a bokashi bin. Person put cabbage leaves in a compost containter for fermentation

Subpod Composting

A type of vermicomposting, the Subpod is an in-ground compost bin that can create a self-fertilising garden bed!

A Subpod Compost Is Good For:

  • Apartments with balconies and townhouses – you can hide it in your garden bed!
  • Time-poor composters – the Subpod self-fertilises.
Subpod compost with two compartments full of compost scraps in garden.

What’s The Best Way To Start Composting? 3 Things to Consider

To work out the most suitable composting method for your needs (backyard, vermicompost or bokashi) you can consider the following factors.

  • Amount of organic waste
    Every household is different. For example, a large family with a lot of organic waste may have different composting needs than a single apartment dweller. If you produce a small amount of kitchen waste, you might consider bokashi composting due to its minimal space requirements. Otherwise, if your household generates a significant amount of waste, a large backyard compost bin could be a better fit.

  • Available space
    Evaluate the space you’re in. If you live in an apartment or townhouse with minimal space, you might choose the space-saving bokashi method or Subpod compost. Otherwise, if you have a large backyard with lots of space, you might opt for the traditional backyard compost or vermicompost.

  • Time commitment
    How much time can you dedicate to composting? A worm farm or Subpod (vermicompost) is an excellent choice if you’re busy, as worms do a lot of the work for you! Backyard composting can allow for a lot of food waste, but it can be more time-consuming as you often need to turn your compost and keep it moist. Bokashi composting is straightforward, however you’ll need to commit to ordering bokashi bran and regularly emptying your bin in an appropriate place (usually in the ground or in a composting system). 

Know What To Compost

Your compost bin should be a healthy balance of ‘greens’ (nitrogen-rich materials like fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds and grass clippings) with ‘browns’ (carbon-rich materials like leaves, twigs and shredded paper). Aim for two parts brown and one part green.

What Can You Compost?
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Leaves
  • Grass trimmings
  • Eggshells
  • Tea bags (provided they’re not plastic)
  • Hair
  • Coffee grounds
  • Paper
  • Wood chips
  • Cardboard
  • Certified home compostable packaging, like brown paper lunch bags, coffee cups, bowls and cutlery (always look for the correct home compostable certification – learn more about the certification here)
What Can’t You Compost?
  • Fossil-based plastic
  • String
  • Aluminium foil
  • Dryer and washing machine lint
  • Dust from the vacuum cleaner
  • Large twigs and branches
  • Pet droppings
  • Wax paper and cardboard
  • Animal and meat products*

*Animal and meat products can be composted, but it’s not always recommended as it may attract pests.

Learn more: What Goes in a Compost Bin?

How To Make Compost – Setting Up Your Backyard Compost Bin

  1. Select a spot
    Choose a well-drained, sunny or partially sunny spot in your backyard – ideally away from your house and close to your garden. Note: the sunnier the spot, the more often you may need to water it.

  2. Layer your material
    Once you know what to compost (and what not to compost), start to layer your brown and green materials. Start with a layer of brown material (like twigs or potting mix). This will provide good aeration and drainage.

  3. Maintain balance
    Keep a good balance of brown and green materials. Try to aim for two parts brown material to one part green material. 

  4. Rotation
    Rotate your backyard compost bin every few weeks to blend the moisture, speed up decomposition, and keep it aerated. 

  5. Moisture
    Monitor the moisture of your compost. It should be damp but not soggy. 

  6. You’ve got black gold
    Within 2 – 6 months, your black gold will be ready to distribute in your garden.
Layers of rotting compost in plastic composter bin in garden

How To Make Compost – Setting Up Your Vermicompost

  1. Choose your bin
    Vermicompost can come in all different shapes and sizes. The one you choose will depend on the size of your area and the amount of organic waste you produce. 

  2. Create a base layer
    Add a base layer of ‘bedding material’ like shredded paper, cardboard or straw. 

  3. Add worms
    There are two main types of worms added to a vermicompost: Eisenia foetida and lumbricus rubellis. You can usually buy them from your local gardening store.  Add these worms to their new home. The best bit? They will reproduce to fill the space they’re in. 

  4. Feed worms
    Start placing your kitchen or garden waste on top of the bedding so the worms can start doing their thing!

  5. Monitor
    Cover your bin and keep an eye on it. You can cover your vermicompost with a damp cloth if you need to increase the moisture levels. 

  6. You’ve got worm castings
    Worm castings are essential worm manure, a nutrient-rich fertiliser ready to add to your garden! You can also add the ‘worm wee’ to your garden, which is the excess liquid drained from a worm farm environment.
Maintaining a bright green worm farm on a patio.

How To Make Compost – Setting Up Your Bokashi Compost

  1. Choose your bokashi bucket
    Choose a bokashi bucket size that works with your space and organic waste. It should have a tight-fitting lid and spigot (tap). 

  2. Layer your food scraps
    Place your food scraps in your bokashi bucket – these can be cooked or uncooked. 

  3. Add bokashi bran
    Regularly add bokashi bran on top of each layer. This creates the fermentation process and accelerates your compost. 

  4. Seal the lid
    Sealing the lid tightly creates an anaerobic (without air) environment – which further speeds up decomposition. 

  5. Fermentation
    Food scraps typically take two weeks to ferment. 

  6. Use the liquid
    You can use your bokashi liquid as a nutrient-rich fertiliser. Simply pour over your garden.

  7. Dispose of compost
    After the fermentation process is complete, the bokashi scraps can be placed in a traditional compost, in your garden or in your Food and Organics Waste Collection (check with your council for more information).

How To Make Compost – Setting Up Your Subpod

  1. Choose a spot for your Subpod
    The Subpod is an in-ground compost bin, so you can bury it straight into your garden bed.

  2. Add your waste
    Add your kitchen, garden and organic waste into your Subpod.

  3. Turn your compost
    You can use the compost aerator (included in the Subpod) to mix your waste.
  4. Worms and microorganisms get to work
    They start to break down the waste and turn it into nutrient-rich compost

  5. Directly feed your garden
    The Subpod can directly enrich the surrounding soil and plants.
Man setting up Subpod compost in his garden with shredded newspaper.

Finally, Add ‘Black Gold’ to Your Garden

Your compost is ready when it’s a dark, rich brown colour and crumbles easily. The time to create compost will depend on the type of composting method you use. 

Add it to your garden to bring vital nutrients and moisture to your soil and plants – watch your garden thrive.

Hands holding soil in agricultural field.

Composting at Home Frequently Asked Questions

How long does compost take to make?

The time it takes to make compost depends on the method you use. A backyard compost can take anywhere between 2 – 6 months, a vermicompost can take 6 – 8 weeks to produce nutrient-rich worm castings, and a bokashi compost can take as little as 2 weeks.

How much space do you need to make compost?

One great thing about composting is that there are different options depending on how much space you have. If you live in an apartment or townhouse, a bokashi compost can be small enough to fit in your kitchen, or you can place a Subpod in a balcony garden bed! If you have a lot of space, you can choose a backyard tumbler.

How long for worms to make compost?

If you’re using the vermicompost method, it usually takes between 6 – 8 weeks to produce nutrient-rich worm castings.

How to make a mini compost?

If you’re interested in making a mini compost, the bokashi or Subpod method is for you. In the bokashi method, food waste is sealed and fermented with a special mix of bacteria and yeast (often called bokashi bran), which breaks down the organic matter. The Subpod compost bin method is an in-ground compost bin, so your garden bed can self-fertilise!

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