Composting 101

I don’t know about you but the thought of starting a compost bin can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to even begin. What the heck is cold composting and how is it different to hot composting? What can you compost? Does it smell? Can I do ut indoors? So we’re here to shed some light on all of your burning questions.

Hot and Cold composting.

Cold composting is gathering all of your garden or food waste and popping them into a pile or bin. Over time (around a year or so) they will decompose and you’ll be left with some awesome garden fertiliser. 

While hot composting is a little more intense but the rewards of hot composting are much faster. You need 4 things to make your hot compost work. Nitrogen, carbon, air and water. Together these 4 feed your compost’s micro-organisms. The micro-organisms get quickly to work and speed up the decay of your waste. 


Vermicompost is your other alternative with the help of worms! Worms in your compost bin not only eat the scraps but produce nitrogen to help speed up the process. 

What can I compost?

  • Fruit Scraps
  • Veggie Scraps
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Grass and plant clippings 
  • Dry leaves
  • Shredded Newspaper
  • Straw
  • Our One Small Step mail satchels

What can’t you compost?

  • Meat, fat, oil or grease
  • Diseased plant materials 
  • Pet Waste
  • Dairy products

How to make an outdoor hot compost

  1. Combine your green and brown materials. Brown materials refers to dried leaves, shrubs, cardboards, newspaper, hay and straw. These add carbon to your pile. While green materials refers to kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and fresh plant clippings. These add nitrogen to your compost.  You want to collect enough plant materials and scraps to make about a 2-4 foot high pile. This will give your compost the absolute best chance at productivity. Start by mixing 3 parts brown and 1 park green materials. If your compost pile looks too wet or starts to smell, add more brown materials. If it looks too dry add some extra green materials. This will keep your compost at a happy medium. 
  2. Water your compost pile. Sprinkle it regularly to ensure that it stays a little moist. Like a damp sponge. Adding too much water will kill your micro-organisms. If this happens your pile will rot instead of composting. To see if your compost is working, reach into the middle of the pile with your hand. The compost should feel warm.
  3. Mix your pile. Stirring your compost pile with a rake will help your scraps decompose more quickly, prevent smells and keep your compost happy. 
  4. It’s time to feed your garden. When your compost stops giving off head and becomes dry, brown and crumbly your compost has finished cooking and is ready to feed your garden. Add 4 inches of compost to your garden and flower beds at the beginning of each planting season to help your garden thrive. You can also steep your compost in water to create a homemade liquid fertiliser.

How to make an indoor compost.

The best way to do an indoor compost is by having a little indoor worm farm. However, I know not everyone is keen on having an indoor worm farm. If you want a bench top compost, this is the way to go.

  1. Get your compost vessel of choice. I have a steel compost bin that I keep on my kitchen bench and then I pop it in my outdoor compost. You can use, a bench top compost bin, a plastic container or a bucket. You want to make sure that they have a lid with aeration holes. Lots of bench top compost bins now have charcoal filters. These ones have little to no odour. 
  2. Have a stash of shredded newspaper or dry leaves, add these every time you add your food scraps to keep your compost from getting too wet.
  3. Turn your compost scraps. This will help them break down more consistently. 
  4. If you don’t have a garden to use your compost on when it is finished you can pop the finished compost into your green bin. 

Top Tips.

  1. Turn your compost. Whether you have an indoor or outdoor compost, this is important. 
  2. Keep your compost moist but not too moist. 
  3. If you’re using an indoor compost bin, invest in one with a charcoal filter. This will completely eliminate smells. I promise you its life changing.