Many gardeners already know the value of the rich, dark, earthy material created by composting.
It is one of the best mulches and richest fertilizers – and it’s cheap. In fact, you can make it for free.It works by providing food for microorganisms and these microorganisms produce nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus naturally for the soil, improving soil fertility.
Apart from being good for the environment, composting is also economically sensible, helping to reduce the pressure on landfills which, once full, pose problems for local government. It is not easy finding new sites for landfills.
Did you know that almost half of the average rubbish bag can be composted and most is not?
Given our environmental pressures this does not make sense. Worse still, when it comes to landfills garden waste and kitchen scraps break down into methane, a potentially explosive greenhouse gas, and tip leachate which can pollute our water. This is why composting – and recycling in a garden compost bin – is such a good thing to do for our environment.
However, if you are handling compost, you need to take some basic health and safety precautions. Garden compost contains various living organisms. On rare occasions, these have been associated with illness and allergies in humans particularly people with compromised immune systems or respiratory illness. And because of this, it is important to always:
1. Wash your hands after handling compost. Compost contains bacteria and this can react with your skin.
2. Wear proper protective gloves at all times, and especially if your skin is broken or if the garden compost is hot).
3. Avoid working with compost in confined spaces.
4. Keep your compost moist to prevent spores and dust flying in your face. (It also helps your compost bin to keep the bacteria damp, because the bacteria become inactive when they get too dry.)
5. Wear a face mask.
About the Author: Alan Paterson was the Managing Director of Compost Oven Pty Ltd, who described themselves (in 2010) as Australia’s leading supplier of hot composting solutions. They encouraged Australians to: “Do the right thing by the environment and talk to us about compost making bins today”. Their website is no longer available.