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COLD COMPOSTING:

Somewhere in the ethers of time, the art of composting was mistakenly thought to involve dumping all your grass clippings, food scraps and other garden waste randomly in a pile in the deepest darkest depths of the garden. Practitioners of his dark art usually grew a very healthy rodent population and rarely any compost. Hands up if this sounds like you at some stage of your life. (I’m guilty officer.) .

However if you stick to just a couple of simple rules, cold composting is an honourable and easy way to make excellent compost. The first thing to know is that cold composting (just like hot composting) relies on layering nitrogen-rich and carbon-rich materials to create the right conditions for composting.

Of course you need to know which materials fall into which group. The nitrogen (“green”) camp includes manure, fresh grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds and seaweed. The carbon (“brown”) camp includes drier, woodier materials like straw, dried leaves, untreated sawdust, wood chips, old dry grass clippings and shredded cardboard. The key to cold (and hot) composting is that whenever you put in some nitrogen (eg food scraps and/or fresh grass clippings), you need to add a similar amount of carbon (eg straw and/or wood chips). Each layer should be 5-10 cm deep.

The second thing that the heap needs to break down is moisture. Water each layer as you go, before covering the heap until the next time you add to it. You can use old carpet, black plastic or an old wool sack. When the heap is a good size (approx one metre high), cover it up for good and leave it to mature. Check the moisture levels occasionally, especially around the edges.

To speed up the process, aerate the heap or turn the pile, mixing the ingredients up thoroughly. The more you turn it, the quicker you will make compost. The whole process will take 12 months or more (less with regular turning). This is longer than with a hot compost (when you gather large piles of materials and make the heap all at once), but the advantage is that you can build your compost heap gradually over weeks or months as the materials come to hand.

COLD COMPOSTING:

Somewhere in the ethers of time, the art of composting was mistakenly thought to involve dumping all your grass clippings, food scraps and other garden waste randomly in a pile in the deepest darkest depths of the garden. Practitioners of his dark art usually grew a very healthy rodent population and rarely any compost. Hands up if this sounds like you at some stage of your life. (I’m guilty officer.) .

However if you stick to just a couple of simple rules, cold composting is an honourable and easy way to make excellent compost. The first thing to know is that cold composting (just like hot composting) relies on layering nitrogen-rich and carbon-rich materials to create the right conditions for composting.
Of course you need to know which materials fall into which group. The nitrogen (“green”) camp includes manure, fresh grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds and seaweed. The carbon (“brown”) camp includes drier, woodier materials like straw, dried leaves, untreated sawdust, wood chips, old dry grass clippings and shredded cardboard. The key to cold (and hot) composting is that whenever you put in some nitrogen (eg food scraps and/or fresh grass clippings), you need to add a similar amount of carbon (eg straw and/or wood chips). Each layer should be 5-10 cm deep.
The second thing that the heap needs to break down is moisture. Water each layer as you go, before covering the heap until the next time you add to it. You can use old carpet, black plastic or an old wool sack. When the heap is a

good size (approx one metre high), cover it up for good and leave it to mature. Check the moisture levels occasionally, especially around the edges.
To speed up the process, aerate the heap or turn the pile, mixing the ingredients up thoroughly. The more you turn it, the quicker you will make compost. The whole process will take 12 months or more (less with regular turning). This is longer than with a hot compost (when you gather large piles of materials and make the heap all at once), but the advantage is that you can build your compost heap gradually over weeks or months as the materials come to hand.

Keep up the moisture levels. When you grab a handful and squeeze, there should be a few drops of water.
Variety is the spice of life. The more varied the ingredients, the better the compost!
Add some tiger worms to speed up the process. Cover the heap to keep in moisture and keep out any rain deluges.
A Bokashi bucket dug into the middle of your heap from time to time will do wonders.
Hoard the carbon. Keep some “browns” stored on the side ready to use eg straw, dry grass clippings, shredded cardboard.
Rats and mice? Get some traps. Bait with peanut butter. Pop the dead rat in the heap.
Make your own bin from pallets or untreated wood. Plastic compost bins can work if you keep moisture levels up by watering frequently.
Don’t spread the weeds. You can add leafy weeds, but keep out any that have gone to flower, are seeding or pernicious (eg couch grass).

EXAMPLE 1
You add a bucket of food scraps (“green”) in to the heap every second day. Fork in an equal amount of straw (“brown”) at the same time. A sprinkle of water, cover the heap and you’re done.

EXAMPLE 2
You mow the lawn producing three to ten catcher’s full of clippings. Rather than dumping the whole lot onto the heap, alternate a 5-10 cm layer of fresh grass (“green”) with a 5-10 cm layer of leaves (“brown”) or straw (“brown”). Remember green, brown, green, brown, green, brown. Don’t forget to sprinkle some water on every layer as you go.
EXAMPLE 3
You buy four bags of manure (“green”) from the side of the road. Save the bags of manure to increase the variety of nitrogen-rich materials you’re adding in. Especially good when you’ve tidied up a whole load of dry material (“brown”) in the garden (eg chopped up prunings).

Kitchen scraps and garden waste make up a third of household waste. Putting them in the landfill can be harmful as organic waste releases methane, a climate change gas. The Dr Compost project helps people in the Queenstown Lakes district to reduce their waste and feed their soil by composting at home.
For composting advice, come along to a Dr Compost workshop, join the Dr Compost Facebook & Instagram communities or email drcompost@wastebusters.co.nz
We love your composting questions and stories!
Dr Compost is funded by Queenstown Lakes District Council and delivered by Wastebusters.

TOP TIPS:

Keep up the moisture levels. When you grab a handful and squeeze, there should be a few drops of water.
Variety is the spice of life. The more varied the ingredients, the better the compost!
Add some tiger worms to speed up the process. Cover the heap to keep in moisture and keep out any rain deluges.
A Bokashi bucket dug into the middle of your heap from time to time will do wonders.
Hoard the carbon. Keep some “browns” stored on the side ready to use eg straw, dry grass clippings, shredded cardboard.
Rats and mice? Get some traps. Bait with peanut butter. Pop the dead rat in the heap.
Make your own bin from pallets or untreated wood. Plastic compost bins can work if you keep moisture levels up by watering frequently.
Don’t spread the weeds. You can add leafy weeds, but keep out any that have gone to flower, are seeding or pernicious (eg couch grass).

Kitchen scraps and garden waste make up a third of household waste. Putting them in the landfill can be harmful as organic waste releases methane, a climate change gas. The Dr Compost project helps people in the Queenstown Lakes district to reduce their waste and feed their soil by composting at home.
For composting advice, come along to a Dr Compost workshop, join the Dr Compost Facebook & Instagram communities or email drcompost@wastebusters.co.nz
We love your composting questions and stories!
Dr Compost is funded by Queenstown Lakes District Council and delivered by Wastebusters.

 

EXAMPLE 1
You add a bucket of food scraps (“green”) in to the heap every second day. Fork in an equal amount of straw (“brown”) at the same time. A sprinkle of water, cover the heap and you’re done.

EXAMPLE 2
You mow the lawn producing three to ten catcher’s full of clippings. Rather than dumping the whole lot onto the heap, alternate a 5-10 cm layer of fresh grass (“green”) with a 5-10 cm layer of leaves (“brown”) or straw (“brown”). Remember green, brown, green, brown, green, brown. Don’t forget to sprinkle some water on every layer as you go.
EXAMPLE 3
You buy four bags of manure (“green”) from the side of the road. Save the bags of manure to increase the variety of nitrogen-rich materials you’re adding in. Especially good when you’ve tidied up a whole load of dry material (“brown”) in the garden (eg chopped up prunings).