Greener Gardening & Composting

Just by making simple adjustments to your gardening routine, you can create an eco-friendly oasis that will dispose of household waste, become a haven for native wildlife and supply you and your family with tasty home-grown fruit and vegetables.

 

Composting

Composting is the process whereby food and other household waste are transformed into nutrient rich chemical-free plant food. All you need is some simple equipment, a routine and a bit of patience!

 

Get Started

  • First, invest in a compost bin. North Sydney residents who complete a Compost Revolution tutorial and pass the quick quiz qualify for a worm farm and/or compost bin at a 50% discount. If you prefer a different type and are happy to pay a bit more, they are available from any good hardware store or nursery. If you can't afford a bin though, you can still create a composting area in your garden. Just choose a well-drained sunny position to begin.

  • Start your composting by spreading a layer of coarse material such as broken sticks, prunings, dry leaves and torn newspaper. That layer should be around 8-12cm thick.

  • Next, add a thin layer (around 1-2cm) of rich soil. Add enough water to make the layers moist.

  • You're now ready to start adding household waste such as food scraps. These can include coffee grounds, leftovers, vegetable peelings, mouldy or out of date food and old bread. You can even add the contents of your vacuum cleaner dust bag or brush and dustpan! Remember - no plastic at all.

  • Every time you add a layer of household waste, add another thin layer of either grass clippings, soil, garden prunings, shredded newspaper or wood ash.

  • Continue layering until your compost bin is close to full, or there is sufficient height to your compost heap.

  • Cover the compost with hessian bags, carpet, underlay, or a layer of mulch.

  • Turn the compost every few weeks with a fork or shovel. If your compost becomes wet and smelly, turning will help it dry out. If the compost appears dry and powdery, water and then turn it again.

 

Do's and Don'ts of Composting

Do use - cooked leftovers, grass clippings, old flowers, weeds without seeds, tea leaves and coffee grounds, vacuum cleaner dust, sweepings from inside and outside the home, small amounts of poultry manure, torn up paper products such as newspaper and pizza boxes, vegetable peelings, leftover salad stuffs, wood ash or BBQ charcoals.

Don't use - dog, cat or human faeces, raw or cooked meat and fish (or only in very small quantities), dairy products and fats (or only in very small quantities), household or garden chemical products, cow or sheep manure.

 

Using your Compost

  • After a few weeks your compost should be ready to use around the garden. It will have a dryish, rough and consistent texture with a pleasant earthy smell.

  • Use as a starting mix for vegetable and flower seeds by mixing one third sand with two thirds compost. This mixture should have a fine texture.

  • Compost can also be used when planting seedlings by digging into a newly turned garden bed.

  • Spread a thin layer across lawns anytime during the year to encourage healthy gy accept your food scraps rowth.

  • If using compost with potted plants, sieve out larger particles.

  • For indoor potted plants, mix sand with the compost to encourage good drainage.

  • Use compost as mulch anywhere around the garden and reduce the need to water. Add 5-7cms of compost to the soil around the roots of a plant to the outermost edge of its canopy.

 

Community Composting: Share Waste

Share waste connects people who wish to recycle their kitchen scraps with their neighbours who are already composting, worm-farming or keep chickens. Now you can divert waste from landfill while getting to know the people around you! There are multiple sites across North Sydney that are now accepting local residential food scraps. Find out more information here.

 

Composting at Community Gardens

Community gardens in North Sydney compost their own food scraps on site. Generally, you must be an official part of these garden groups and have undergone the appropriate training with that group to participate. Join us, find your nearest local community gardens.

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