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Start composting at home<h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​Composting system​​​​​​​</h2><p>​Even if you have a smaller garden or backyard, making compost is easy. A good compost system feeds nutrients back into soil, helping plants and food grow, especially in areas in Cape Town where the soil is not very rich. It also helps with the following: </p><ul><li>Good compost makes healthier plants that do not die as quickly.</li><li>Composting reduces the amount of waste going to our <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Explore%20and%20enjoy/See-all-city-facilities/our-service-facilities/Landfills">landfills</a>. </li><li>Composting means less harmful greenhouse gases (methane) is released into the atmosphere, which is what happens when food or garden waste sits in our landfills.</li></ul><p>There are different ways to compost, or composting systems. The three most common methods of composting are to use a composting container, start a compost heap, or use a worm composter or “bin”.</p><div class="notification with-heading dark-copy light-blue bg-light-grey"><div class="graphic with-border"> <i class="info fastfact">​​</i></div><div class="desc"><h4>Fast fact​</h4><p>About half of your household waste is food waste and is perfect for composting. Your garden waste is also important for adding to your composting system. Make sure you also read our <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Family%20and%20home/greener-living/recycling-at-home/recycling-guide">recycling guide</a> to help you reduce your waste even more.</p></div></div><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​What to compost​​​​​​​</h2><p>As a rule, organic matter that will rot or decay will make good compost, but each composting system is slightly different, so some research and trial and error is needed. See the guide below for what works really well, and what you should avoid: </p><div class="mobile-scroll">​​<br> <table><thead><tr><th>Compostable</th><th>Non-compostable</th></tr></thead><tbody><tr><td><ul><li>Garden waste such as grass cuttings, leaves, soil, branches and so on </li><li>Vegetable and fruit peelings</li><li>Tea leaves and tea bags</li><li>Coffee grounds</li><li>Egg shells</li><li>Paper, cardboard, sawdust and wood shavings</li><li>Wood fire ash</li><li>Seaweed (in moderation, as it is very salty)</li><li>Torn up newspaper and kitchen towels</li></ul></td><td><ul><li>Anything that doesn’t rot, like metals, glass and plastics </li><li>Meat (it attracts rodents)</li><li>Garden waste sprayed with pesticides</li><li>Toilet or septic tank sewage </li><li>Dead animals</li><li>Cooked table scraps (only if your system can accommodate these)</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>​​ </div><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​Using a composting container​​​​​​​</h2><p>Most nurseries stock composting containers for use in your garden. They are easy to use and accept most raw organic kitchen waste and soft garden waste, require very little work to maintain, and provide good compost for your garden. The instructions below for starting a compost heap or system can work for a composting container as well.</p><div class="notification with-heading white-copy blue bg-navy"><div class="graphic no-border"> <i class="info caring">​​</i></div><div class="desc"><h4>Did you know?</h4><p> <strong>A caring city: </strong>The City runs a <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Activities-and-programmes/Cleaning-and-recycling/home-composting-programme/Home%20Composting%20Programme">Home Composting Programme</a> where homeowners are given an opportunity, from time to time, to apply for free composting containers to help reduce the amount of household organic waste that goes to our landfills. </p></div></div><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​Starting a compost heap or system​​​​​​​</h2><p> To help you get started and make a great compost system, we have prepared a guide below. </p><div class="lrg-icon-content bordered"><div class="lrg-icon lrg-check"><p> <b>​​​​​​Getting started is easy. Make sure you have the following:</b></p><ul><li>Garden waste or acceptable organic kitchen waste</li><li>A secured, separate section of your garden with open soil, or a container you can put outside on the soil: an old tyre with a board covering the top, or a covered box.  Any container you use should not be sealed underneath, as liquid needs to drain into the soil</li><li>A garden fork or stick for turning the compost in the container or heap</li><li>Gloves for handling food waste</li></ul></div></div><p>   </p><h4> Tips for setting up your compost heap or system: </h4><ul><li>Place your container on a patch of open soil that will receive half sun and half shade during the day. If using a designated garden area, make sure it is an open soil area and secured from dogs and other pets who may dig up the soil.</li><li>Put down about 200 millimetres (20 centimetres) of mixed organic (garden and kitchen) material into your container or designated garden area. Chop up any big pieces. </li><li>To make the compost develop faster, you can add a ‘starter,’ such as a bucketful of mature compost, animal manure, or bone meal. You can get 'starters' at nurseries and garden shops.</li><li>As you produce organic waste from your kitchen, or grass cuttings or leaves from your garden, keep on adding kitchen and/or garden waste to the system – alternatively if possible. Remember to mix up the material except for the bottom layer. Use soil, dry grass, leaves, or sawdust on top to keep the smells and flies away.</li><li>After a week, check your compost system – it should feel hot. The heat comes from the oxidisation process and means the waste is decomposing. This is good! </li><li>Every few weeks you’ll need to mix up your compost to keep it hot. The heat also kills off weed seeds and fly larvae.</li></ul><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​Harvesting your compost​​​​​​​</h2><p>Depending on the season and what you have used, you will soon be ready to harvest your compost – the process usually takes about three months. Read our do’s and don'ts below to make sure you will have a good batch of veggies or fruits.</p><h4> Do’s </h4><ul><li> Let air circulate freely throughout the mixture. </li><li> Make sure the compost heap is damp, but not wet. if it gets too wet, add material like sawdust, straw or manure which all absorb water well.</li><li>Control flies by covering any new material with dry soil, sawdust, grass or leaves.</li><li> Turn the material in the compost system regularly to speed up the breakdown process.</li><li> Beware of large white worms which could be the larvae of fruit beetles – these can do lots of damage in your garden. Make sure you identify these worms first before removing them.</li></ul><h4> Don'ts </h4><ul><li>Don’t add cooked food or meat scraps as they attract rodents.</li><li>Don’t add potato, lemon or orange peels – they make the soil acidic.</li><li>Don’t add weeds that have started growing.</li><li>Don’t add tomatoes.</li><li>Don’t add too many grass cuttings – this will heat the compost system up too much.</li><li>Don’t add tough weeds or thick branches – they don’t decompose easily.</li></ul><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​After harvesting</h2><p>Your compost will be ready in about three months. When it is dark and crumbly, you know it is ready to start using in your home or <a href="https://www.capetown.gov.za/Local%20and%20communities/Community-building-and-upliftment/Start-a-food-revolution/Start-a-community-food-garden">community garden</a>. </p><p> <strong>To make sure you prepare properly for the next compost batch, here are some tips: </strong></p><ul><li>A week before you harvest your compost, add some vegetable waste to bring any worms to the top of the compost system.</li><li>Put the top layer (with the worms in it) to one side, and use the rest of the compost in your garden.</li><li>Restart your next compost system by placing some of the old compost into your container or designated area, then adding the top layer that you put to one side.</li></ul><p> <em>[Source: </em><a href="https://resource.capetown.gov.za/documentcentre/Documents/Procedures%2c%20guidelines%20and%20regulations/CCT_Smart_Living_Handbook.pdf" target="_blank"><em> Smart Living Handbook</em></a><em>, pg 147 - 150]</em></p><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​Making or using a worm composter (or worm “bin”)​​​​​​​</h2><p>Earthworms help you make excellent, rich compost. They can also be used if you don’t have a garden, but still wish to compost your organic kitchen waste. You can buy ‘worm bin kits’ (worms and worm composters), or you can start your own. Search online for worm composter or worm bin suppliers. </p><div class="lrg-icon-content bordered"><div class="lrg-icon lrg-check"><p> <b>​​​​​​Make sure you have the following to get started:</b></p><ul><li>Acceptable organic kitchen waste</li><li>A ready-bought worm composter, or a container and equipment as shown in the diagram on the poster below</li><li>Worms, either from damp areas in your garden, or bought at a nursery or worm composter supplier</li><li>A small fork for turning the compost in the container</li><li>Gloves for handling food waste</li></ul></div></div><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​Make your worm bin​​​​​​​</h2><p>We have created a graphic to show you the different layers of a worm composter. </p> <span> <div class="infographic bg-font-adjust-bg">​​​​​​​​​ <figure> <img class="responsive" alt="placeholder" src="https://resource.capetown.gov.za/cityassets/Inline%20Images/Generic%20-%20Thumbnail.jpg" /></figure> <figcaption> <p> <span class="infoGraphicSpan">POSTER<br>​​<strong>HOW TO START A WORM BIN</strong></span></p> <a title="How to make a worm bin poster" class="btn dark-blue" href="https://resource.capetown.gov.za/documentcentre/Documents/Graphics%20and%20educational%20material/How%20to%20start%20a%20worm%20bin%20-%20Poster.pdf" target="_blank"><i class="icon download"></i>Download PDF</a></figcaption></div></span> <h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​Do’s and dont’s for worm composting​​​​​​​</h2><h4> Do’s</h4><ul><li>Place the composter on bricks (inside or outside in a sheltered spot) to improve drainage.</li><li>Add raw fruit and vegetable waste to make your worm compost.</li><li>Add a layer of shredded newspaper every time you put waste in the bin, to keep fruit flies away.</li><li>Use a fork to turn the top layer of the composter once a week. This introduces air into the composter.</li><li>Monitor the worms by experimenting with small amounts of certain fruit and vegetables – they may not like citrus fruit or onions for example.</li><li>Add eggshells to neutralise acids.</li><li>Harvest the worm tea (liquid) from time to time.</li></ul><h4> Don'ts</h4><ul><li>Don’t place in sunlight as worms like cool, dark places.</li><li>Don’t add meat or cooked food as this will attract rodents.</li></ul> <span> </span>GP0|#5bbc4537-6bc5-4a06-b5a3-cdcc67073e69;L0|#05bbc4537-6bc5-4a06-b5a3-cdcc67073e69|Start composting at home;GTSet|#ef3a64a2-d764-44bc-9d69-3a63d3fadea1;GPP|#630f1ce3-4d76-4447-85fb-0afef5f00698;GPP|#39d66b11-2134-4df5-8360-0bc5e66e8f4f;GPP|#245ec7aa-a528-4cd3-bcac-597c292db711Learn how to start composting at home or in your community garden.1

 

 

Compost Research Project Guidelines470103GP0|#63522a5c-a6fd-40ae-a313-2b363ab1ec33;L0|#063522a5c-a6fd-40ae-a313-2b363ab1ec33|Guideline;GTSet|#f1e8889f-f7d7-4d5b-a3f5-af0ca2e076ea;GPP|#d8892104-ce90-493e-b813-93c488f4b1d3;GPP|#0972c695-fd19-46c4-ab5d-9601f17b780e2015-12-31T22:00:00Z
How To Start a Worm Bin Poster1043580GP0|#591e1d8b-7507-4dd3-8a9a-59b5cdd318c6;L0|#0591e1d8b-7507-4dd3-8a9a-59b5cdd318c6|Poster;GTSet|#f1e8889f-f7d7-4d5b-a3f5-af0ca2e076ea;GPP|#5340fe0b-73a7-472c-bef7-04e450fb5c4f;GPP|#0972c695-fd19-46c4-ab5d-9601f17b780e2015-12-31T22:00:00Z

 

 

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