Recycling: Make a Compost Heap for Your Garden | WWF

Recycling: Make a Compost Heap for Your Garden

Nature's great circle of life system means that organic waste left on the ground decompose and return their nutrients to the soil. Millions and millions of microscopic organisms feed on organic remains-including our household and garden waste-breaking it down over time to create a rich soil conditioner and fertiliser.

Composting works on the same principles. Almost 75 per cent of household waste is compostable. Thus, composting not only saves landfill space, but recycles material that most of us throw away believing to be useless and also saves money on fertilisers.

And of course, we get happy and healthy gardens.

The Basics of Composting
To make a good compost, one needs to have the right carbon-nitrogen ration (see table). If the C content is too high, it will slow down decomposition, and if the N content is too high, it could give out an unpleasant smell and also leach into groundwater, polluting it.

A compost may be 'hot' (aerobic) or 'cold' (anaerobic). A hot compost has to be aerated by turning the pile often to mix in air amongst the composting material. This is the more sought after type of compost as it decomposes faster and gives a better quality product.

A cold compost is advised if you are not in a hurry to obtain your compost product and cannot spare much time for it. It is also called a 'passive' compost as it received less, if any, turning, and thus the decomposition is anaerobic, that is without making use of oxygen.

High N wastes

High C wastes

To be avoided

Coffee grounds
Vegetable scraps
Fruit wastes and grains
Grass clippings
Hair (pet or human)
Seaweed (better rinse well first though)
Weeds (hot piles only)
Corncobs and cornstalks
Nutshells (preferably crushed)
Pine needles
Vegetable stalks and Seeds (hot piles only)
Coal & coke ash
Cat litter
Dog faeces
Disposable nappies
Glossy magazines
Cooked food