We throw away millions of tonnes of food a year, most of it fresh fruit and vegetables that end up rotting away in landfill.
A better way of dealing with food waste is to set up a compost system at home, turning your scraps into rich food your garden soil and plants will love.
The creation station
A three-bin compost system ensures you’re never without nutritious soil conditioner for the garden.
The simplest method is to just create three piles near each other, but this can look very messy.
Instead, use star pickets and chicken wire to make three-sided pens with open fronts, each measuring one metre square.
These will create neat piles, while allowing lots of air in from the sides. They are directly on top of the soil, so earthworms can move in and out, helping to speed the process.
Three bins gives you one to fill, one to mature, and one with compost all ready to be used.
Keep it contained
If you don’t have the space for an open bin system, there are plenty of products to suit your needs.
A tumbler bin makes aerating easy so it’s generally a shorter process from waste to compost. This type of bin is, however, the most expensive to buy.
Standard compost bins come in all shapes and sizes, with different types of lids and air vents.
Start your compost with kitchen scraps and garden refuse, such as grass clippings, pruning offcuts and leaves. Make sure any tough or large scraps are finely shredded, then water it until it is just damp.
Turn the compost weekly. If it’s too dry or cool, add more scraps or sprinkle with blood and bone. If it’s too wet, add dry leaves or twigs, shredded paper or garden soil. Aim to keep it as moist as a damp sponge.
For a small garden or flat, choose an indoor benchtop composter, which turns waste into liquid fertiliser.
TIP: If the mix is smelly or contains lots of fruit waste, add a little lime.
What to compost
Only use biodegradable waste in the compost bin. The better the variety of materials added, the better the end product.
Some organic materials, like corn cobs, take too long to decompose. Diseased plants, weeds with seeds or runners and chemically treated items should never go in the compost.
Fruit and veg peelings and cores
Small amounts of citrus peel
Garden waste, grass and leaves
Fats and oils
Dog and cat poo