Posted in Home & Garden

Successful Composting: Shrink What You Send to Landfill

My personal experience of composting is a smelly fail of epic proportions, due to a few simple rookie errors. But we humans need to drastically reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill. The wrath of my stubborn streak is notorious and this donkey will not be defeated. I will make steps towards a more sustainable life and reduce my personal carbon footprint.

With a little creativity and know how composting can be achieved in gardens of all sizes. I have learned the best way to compost success is considering every aspect of the composting process.

Step one: position and container. The micro-organisms that convert food waste into compost work best in consistent conditions, with no extreme temperatures or moisture levels. A partial or shady position in the garden is ideal. Compost bins and containers retain a little warmth and moisture for quicker compost production, but compost heaps can work well as an earth base offer better drainage and wider access to organisms in the soil. If using a bin it is important to add a generous quantity of soil in the base of the bin. Warmth, water, drainage and air are all required to activate the necessary micro-organisms. If you do not have a garden consider a worm farm.

Step two: balance of composting materials. Compost is made up of a blend of green and brown material, plus water and air. Green material is rich in nitrogen or protein. They are largely plant based waste that heat and enable the micro-organisms to multiply. Brown material is carbon or carbohydrate rich, it bulks out the compost pile and enables air to filter through the decomposing waste. It also feeds the living organisms that live in the soil.

Green MaterialBrown Material
Grass ClippingsPaper
Fruit and Vegetable ScrapsCardboard
Teabags/Coffee GroundsTwigs
Weeds that haven’t seeded Fallen Leaves
Animal Manures (excluding cat and dog)Cotton Fabric
Plant TrimmingsPine Cones
Toilet Rolls
Dryer Lint
Examples of Green and Brown Material

Step three: Ratio of composting material. To much brown material and decomposition will be to slow. To much green material and the compost pile will begin to smell. Ratios for perfect compost should be approximately 25 percent green material, to 75 percent brown material. Try to avoid too much of any one material and tweak ratios to resolve problems mentioned above. If composting continues to be slow try adding an accelerator either high in nitrogen (green material) or carbon (brown material).

Step four: turn the heap. Air is necessary to allow decomposition of waste material into compost. Ideally add large amounts of waste material at any one time and turn periodically. If the compost pile is to wet and compact air will not circulate. Failure to introduce air to the compost is the main reason for poor results. In dry weather keep the compost moist.


A professional and creative writing graduate and proofreader. Hobbies include: reading, writing, walking, cycling, theatre, cooking, baking, arts, crafts and culture. An avid volunteer within the arts sector and supporter of improving mental health. Favourite quote: creativity is contagious passion. (Einstein)

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