Things you didn’t know you could compost

Dr Compost aka Ben Elms is a permaculture and gardening expert who’s been operating in the unusual Central Otago climate for over 20 years. Funded by QLDC and delivered by Wanaka Wastebusters, the Dr Compost project aims to reduce organic waste going to landfill.

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We throw so much away into landfill. It’s a big problem that we’re now having to face. Organic matter doesn’t break down easily in landfill as there’s not enough oxygen for the bacteria to work their usual magic – it undergoes anaerobic decomposition instead and produces methane. Methane is a fire hazard and it’s a potent greenhouse gas. Not good!

If you’ve got space to compost, do it. This is a fantastic way to divert matter away from landfill AND it’s a fantastic resource for growing veggies and other plants. While carrot tops and grass clippings are standard compost fodder, here’s four other things that can go into your compost heap:

1. Bones. Bury and let decompose slowly. They can also be added to a bokashi bucket. Or, if you’ve got a wood burner, pop the bones in your fire and use the ash in the veggie garden. It’s a great way to capture all those minerals.

2. Eggshells. It’s best to roast eggshells in your over or fireplace before grinding them down and sprinkling them into your compost or wherever your soil needs a calcium boost. I like to collect lots of eggshells and roast them all at once.

3. Urine. We’re peeing a great resource all day! Urine is a free fertiliser. Collect in a bucket, dilute it in a watering can and use around your veggies and fruit trees. Top tip: don’t store urine for too long as it will start to pong.

4. Cardboard. Brown cardboard can be used in pathways to stop weeds growing. We can also use it on beds where we have a bed of larger veggies growing as a surface mulch. Place brown cardboard over the veggie bed, weight it down where needed, make good sized holes and plant your seedlings.

Words Ben Elms


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