Week seven - bonus: Start composting and growing your own herbs!
A certain amount of kitchen waste is unavoidable, and even the most savvy of foodies will have some kitchen scraps leftover.
The good news is that fruit and vegetable waste can easily be recycled in a compost or worm farm system to create rich nutrients for your garden instead of being wasted in landfill.
If you’re not already composting, now is a fantastic time to start. Our Brisbane climate is perfect for composting, as it enables us to process large volumes of food scraps and small amounts of garden waste in a relatively short timeframe.
There are several different types of composting systems available as outlined below.
The four main ingredients for successful composting are:
- air - compost needs to be turned regularly. By turning your compost once a week you will speed up the decomposition process and help prevent the compost from becoming smelly
- water – ensure it remains damp
- nitrogen or 'green materials (such as food scraps, fresh grass clippings, etc.)
- carbon or 'brown' materials (such as dry leaves, garden waste, etc.).
Find out more detailed information on how to set up a compost.
Worm farming is an easy, efficient and fun option that allows you to create both liquid and solid fertilisers for your garden from your food waste. Worm farms are compact and need to be kept in the shade, so they are suitable in a garage, shady patio or in apartments. To set up a worm farm, you will need to purchase special 'composting worms' which are different from the earthworms you find in your garden. Discover what type of worm farm suits your household.
This method utilises a special preparation mix called EM (Effective Microorganism) to ferment the food waste in the Bokashi bin. EM is available for purchase from garden and hardware shops. After the waste ferments, it is buried in a garden or placed in a compost bin. Although this option can only handle smaller volumes of food waste, it is able to process more types of foods, such as meat, cooked food and bread. A Bokashi bin is a great option for apartment dwellers and smaller households, or as an additional composting system to households with a traditional compost bin. Find out more.
Dogs, cats, chickens, guinea pigs, ducks and other pets can consume many of your food scraps. If you don’t have a pet, you can freeze your scraps and give them to a neighbour, friend or relative who does. Find out more.
The right system for you
Choosing a system that best suits your diet, lifestyle, garden size and time is crucial to ensuring that you are successful. People often use a combination of systems for organic recycling.
The following chart explains what systems are suitable for different food scraps.
|Food type||Composting||Worm farming||Bokashi||Animals|
|Fruit scraps||Yes||Yes (except citrus)||Yes||Some|
|Vegetable scraps||Yes||Yes (except onion, garlic, chilli)||Yes||Some|
|Bones||No||No||Yes – break up large bones||Some|
|Dairy||Small amount||Small amount||Yes||Some|
|Bread, pasta, other cooked food||No||Yes||Yes|
Bonus Activity – Plant a herb (or two)
How often does a recipe call for a sprinkling of coriander, but you’re forced to buy a whole bunch? How often do you ever get around to using the entire bunch before it wilts in the bottom of the crisper? Unfortunately all too often. Growing your own herbs is an easy way to save money, and reduce the amount of avoidable food waste you generate.
If you haven’t grown herbs before, try starting with one or two of your favourites in a pot and see how you go.
While each herb has different growing requirements, herbs that grow well in Brisbane include basil, mint, parsley, oregano, dill, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage and more.
You can start from seed, but it’s often quicker and more satisfying to start by purchasing a small plant. These are widely available in nurseries, garden centres, hardware stores and sometimes even major supermarkets.
- Consider which two herbs you use most and source small plants of these.
- Choose a sunny spot close to the kitchen if possible for convenience (herbs need a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day).
- Plant your herbs at dusk in the chosen garden bed or pot, using a mixture of potting mix or soil and fertiliser or compost.
- Plant the herbs at least 40cm apart, but ensure you don’t plant them any deeper than they were in the original pot.
- Water your newly planted herbs with either worm tea or a liquid seaweed fertiliser (both at half strength) weekly.
- Water your herb daily during the heat of summer, and every few days in cooler weather.
- Harvest your herbs regularly to cultivate a healthy, thriving and bushy plant. Harvesting is best done immediately above new growth. If you don’t need everything you harvest, pass them on to family, friends and colleagues.
Tips for growing herbs
- Herbs need sunlight, good drainage and regular water during dry and hot weather.
- Potted herbs need daily watering in really hot weather, and sometimes twice a day.
- In autumn, collect the seeds set by annual herbs, store them and re-plant in spring.
- Choose the correct herb for the season (e.g. dill grows better in the cooler months, whereas rosemary can be grown all year round).