Composting is a way of recycling your organic waste – such as vegetable scraps and leaves – by mixing them in a compost bin and leaving them to break down naturally. The end product is a brown-black substance that looks like soil and is rich in nitrogen.
Compost is a great way to improve your soil as it helps build structure and retain moisture and provides nutrients for all types of soils. Local councils often run free composting workshops which are good for getting started.
- If your compost bin smells, add more dry material such as newspapers or leaf litter.
- Avoid meat scraps as they attract vermin.
- To accelerate the composting process, add air by turning it over with a fork.
For apartment-dwellers or those who are space poor but who still want to take advantage of the fertiliser available to you in your food scraps, try a worm farm or bokashi bucket.
Worms decompose organic matter into worm castings, that gives soil a nutrient surge. You can make a farm by using polystyrene boxes (instructions are on the internet or check with your local council) or buy one from your local council or hardware store.
- Keep the farm in a cool, dry space.
- You can add everything, from banana peel to eggshells, but not citrus and onions as they’re too acidic for the worms, and do not add meat or twigs.
By placing your kitchen scraps into these airtight containers and using a bokashi mix that contains micro-organisms, the food waste ferments. Food waste reduces in volume and a bokashi juice, or fertilizer, is produced. The remaining food waste can then be buried in garden beds. Bokashi buckets can be kept indoors.
Keeping chickens is a way of getting fresh eggs every morning as well as using up food scraps. If you keep chooks, leave their manure out to dry or put it into a compost bin along with kitchen scraps and leaf litter, so it breaks down into organic, nutrient-rich matter.
You'll need to check with your local council if you can keep chooks in your area.
If you're not sure chickens are right for you, try renting them. See www.rentachook.com.au in NSW or www.bookachook.com in Victoria. You will get the whole package – a coop, two hens, organic feed, waterer, food and straw – but will be given a deadline to decide if it’s right for you. Rent-a-Chook, for example, has a six-week deadline. It costs $430 upfront, which includes a $330 deposit that will be returned if you decide not to keep the chooks.