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How to: Fix The Compost

Compost can be the greatest free source of nutrient for your garden.

Here our very own compost queen, Sandra Ross answers some of the most frequently-asked compost questions.


Compost can be the greatest free source of nutrient for your garden.


When I add my compost to the garden my plants seem to do worse, not better.

You need to tweak your recipe, and make sure the mix is not too dry and not too wet. Compost should be made like lasagne, in thin layers so that it is not dominated by any one ingredient, whether it be kitchen scraps or grass clippings; fallen leaves or garden trimmings. Aeration is vital so that aerobic organisms can live and work their magic. In wet weather the compost should be covered with old carpet so it doesn’t get sodden, and in dry weather it should be watered with a hose. When it is just right, it will hold together in your hand. If it's too dry it won't come together, and if it's too wet it will feel soggy.


Eek, there are bugs in my compost!

Your compost is not hot enough to deter marauders. Good compost should be steaming. To heat up the heap needs air. This can be done manually with a fork by lifting layers from one bin into another. Or you can use a Compost Worm, which works like a big screw to removes a plug of compost so that air can penetrate.


My compost is excruciatingly slow.

Mixing matured compost into the new heap activates the process and speeds it up. We use a triple bin system. Once we have emptied one bin onto the garden we turn alternate layers of compost from the other two bins into the empty bin. This incorporates air between layers, which speeds up the decomposition process. A sprinkle of pelletised manure between layers is another accelerant.


I don ’ t have space for a triple bin compost system

Compost tumblers take little space and make excellent compost. Add kitchen scraps along with straw or sugarcane mulch, leaves, and a sprinkle of cow manure to maintain the balance of ingredients and moisture content. Turn it every day to draw air into the compost. It should be ready in six weeks. Don’t let it get too full or it will be so heavy you won’t be able to turn it.

About this article

Author: Sandra Ross aka The Compost Queen