How to start easily composting your kitchen scraps at home

gran and grandson composting in the kitchen
It's growing in popularity and doesn't need to be complicated or messy. Photo credit: Getty.

Composting: It's one of those buzzwords I've vaguely bandied about and definitely something I know I should be doing. But scarred with childhood memories of ice cream containers filled with ants and orange peels it's never been something that's massively appealed. 

Times are changing, the planet needs our help to survive and thrive. From a more personal point of view, I have a tiny but somewhat flourishing garden I would like to give a boost with a little homemade compost - braving the bugs and all. 

I'm not alone. According to Bunnings, interest in composting has grown amongst New Zealanders. 'How to Compost' content on its website has increased by almost 57 percent compared to last year, while customer demand for composting products has increased by 42 percent, the company says. 

"We have seen strong growth in the composting category as customers are becoming more environmentally aware and are looking for ways to reduce their footprint," says Bunnings head of merchandise, Cameron Rist. 

"Whilst some customers may feel hesitant to try composting or think they need an outdoor area, supplier innovation in this space has been amazing, making it easy for anyone to compost - even in a small apartment."

Starting composting doesn't have to be complicated. The Bunnings team have put together some top tips to help you start your compost journey with ease. 

How to begin: 

  • Collect your kitchen scraps in a kitchen caddy or indoor composter
  • Add the kitchen scraps to your composter with some 'brown' scraps to balance the organic waste. These can be items from your home or garden such as brown leaves, paper or cardboard. The aim is to get a mixture with a consistency that is neither too wet nor too dry
  • Turn your composter at least two - three times a week. When adding waste, always give it a few turns to air the compost, which helps the microbes and bacteria break down the waste faster
  • Composting can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks to mature. Once your compost has turned into a dark, crumbly material with a natural earthy smell it is ready to use and can be applied to the surface of your garden/veggie patch or dug into the soil. 

What to compost 

  • Green: Kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, bread, milk, juice, cut flowers, green leaves, grass clippings and green weeds - but avoid putting in seeds or runners
  • Brown: Brown leaves, dead grass, weeds, paper, cardboard, soil, mulch and sawdust 
  • Never compost: Chunky meat, cheese, very oily wastes, plastics, weeds, diseased plants, treated sawdust.

Handy tips 

  • Get the balance of your compost right with a 50/50 mixture of green to brown scraps - with a lot of kitchen waste, you will need plenty of brown material
  • If your compost is smelly and attracting lots of flies, try adding more brown material
  • If you chop up your food and garden waste it will speed up the composting process
  • Position your your composter where it will get the most sunlight - the warmer the location, the faster the compost will mature.