Composting

Over half of what Taranaki households send to landfill is compostable material.

 Not only are we losing all of those potential nutrients to landfill, when organic materials are buried they don’t break down. This happens because there is no oxygen in a landfill to help it decompose. Instead it rots down and the liquid from this slowly filters down and can eventually end up in waterways. It also creates methane gas, which is a nasty greenhouse gas that is 21 times more harmful to global warming than carbon dioxide.

 Instead of trucking valuable resources long distances and wasting it in filling landfills, we could be putting much of it to good use.

 It is so easy to divert all that lovely organic matter which is full of nutrients and goodness back into our gardens through composting. Here are some easy ways you can compost:


Want to learn how to compost at home? Composting workshops are offered in Taranaki as follows:

  • Sustainable Taranaki Workshops - composting workshops are a popular topic. Check out our workshops page and sign up to receive workshop updates as these become available throughout the year.

  • We also work with the Lets Compost team to support compost workshops funded by NPDC. Details on those available in 2019 will be posted here once information becomes available.

Education


Compost bins

You can make a compost bin out of just about anything. There’s the classic black bin that is very popular in gardens all around New Zealand. You can also make your own compost bin using a wide variety of materials such as wooden pallets, plywood, bricks, and concrete blocks. Just make sure that it sits on the soil and is no smaller than 1 metre high x 1 metre wide x 1 metre deep.

A good healthy compost should be a combination of 70% brown content and 30% green content (see more details below).  Keep feeding your compost for about 6-8 months and you should have lovely sweet, dark, crumbly soil to add to your garden beds.

What should go in?

The important thing to know in making good compost is that you need more materials in your compost bin that have carbon in them, than the amount of food scraps and lawn clippings you put in, that are rich in nitrogen. These carbon-rich materials are brown, and usually dry.

 Examples of ‘brown’ things you should collect and put in your compost bin include: 

  • Dried leaves

  • Non-shiny paper

  • Paper towels, tissues, napkins

  • Boxes – ripped up so they can break down

  • Ash

  • Vacuum cleaner dust

  • Newspapers

  • Eggshells

  • Egg cartons

  • Sawdust

  • Untreated wood shavings

  • Dry lawn clippings.

 ‘Green’ items for your compost are: 

  • Food scraps

  • Coffee grounds 

  • Teabags 

  • Lawn clippings 

  • Non-invasive weeds 

  • Old flowers. 

 When you start your compost, put it in a sunny spot, on the earth, with a base layer of twigs to help aerate your pile, and a big layer of dry browns. Then each time you go to take out your kitchen scraps container, take a container or box of dry brown items larger than the quantity of food scraps.  

Put in your green stuff, and then make a brown layer that’s even thicker – remember you want a ratio of 70% browns to 30% greens. Capping off with a layer of browns and then the lid or a sack or piece of wood also helps seal your bin from flies or other insects.  

What should NOT go in?

  • Meat

  • Dairy products

  • Oils

 If you have a problem with rats you should also leave out processed foods like bread and pasta. Or trap for rats, and have a good enclosed bin with a lid, and a layer of chicken wire at the bottom of your bin, between the bin and the soil or grass.


Worm farms

Composting worms (a different variety than earthworms) eat through your food scraps, garden waste, paper and cardboard in this type of composting system.  Not only do you get worm ‘tea’ from the worm farm (a great fertiliser for pot plants and gardens), you get composted soil called worm castings after a few months that can be added to your garden.

What should go in?

It’s basically the same 70:30 mix as the standard compost mix with your browns and greens. See above. But cut up your food scraps into smaller pieces so they can be eaten easily by worms.

What should NOT go in?

This is the important bit for your worms, as there are things that they don’t like to eat, such as:

  • Spicy food

  • Chilli, onion and garlic

  • Meat and milk products

  • Bread and pasta

  • Cooked or processed food

  • Citrus or acidic foods

  • Oils and liquids such as soup.


Bokashi

This is a fermentation system which breaks down your food scraps.  The scraps go into a bucket and bokashi powder is sprinkled on top which kick starts the fermenting process.  After two weeks it’s buried in your garden where it very quickly breaks down, ready for your compost or for digging in below garden beds.  There’s also a super liquid that comes from the fermenting process which you can dilute to use in your garden.

What should go in?

  • Bokashi takes 100% Greens. It is a way to easily process all your fresh food waste.

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps

  • Prepared foods

  • Cooked and uncooked meats, and fish

  • Other food such as cheese, eggs, bread, coffee grinds and tea bags

  • Wilted flowers

  • Citrus.

What should NOT go in?

  • Do not include any Browns into your Bokashi

  • Liquids such as milk, orange juice or oils

  • Paper and plastic wrap

  • Large meat bones.


The following local business sell composting systems:

Stockists of composting systems



If you know of other stockists/retailers/suppliers/services or all round fantastic sustainable sources please let us know so that we can include them.