Trouble Free Compost
Enclosed compost systems are easier to manage in a school garden.
Enclosed tumbler systems that are turned regularly, aerate the compost to help it break down more quickly and also excludes potential pests.
Compost bins: To prevent mice and rats tunneling into compost from below. Sit bins on rigid ‘mouse mesh’. (wire mesh with 5mm aperture). Always keep the lid closed especially at night to prevent entry from the top. High winds will remove the lids. To prevent this, place a rock on top.
Bury scraps deep in the pile to hide the scent of food scraps and reduce attractiveness to animals.
Ensure students do not throw food scraps onto the ground or gardens as this will attract rodents. Do not add dairy or meat which attracts pests.
Keeping compost healthy
Leave out diseased plants, runner grasses, noxious weeds or weed that have gone to flower or seed. High heat is required to kill seeds and pathogens and most compost systems do not get hot enough.
Slaters and cockroaches in your compost is a sign it is too dry. Dry ingredients take a much longer time to break down into compost. To correct, water and mix/turn a few times. Moving forward, add water every time you add dry ingredients such as leaves.
Smelly compost indicates your compost is too wet. Add dry leaves and/or shredded newspaper and mix through to absorb some moisture.
Making compost quickly
Compost will take longer to break down in cooler months.
Adding a combination of browns and greens will speed up breakdown and create a more balanced finished product.
Additions high in Nitrogen such as comfrey or fresh manure will speed up compost cooking times.
Compost is ready to use when it resembles soil and there are no longer visible ‘ingredients’.
Learn more about building healthy soil.