During the pandemic, it seems everyone in Qatar has started gardening, and it’s not difficult to see why. Growing at home is a great way to bring nature inside. It’s also beneficial for physical and mental well-being. From ferns to fiddle leaf and pothos to peace lily, Qatar’s home gardeners are enjoying the benefits of being closer to nature.
Composting at home is very simple and easy to do. With just a few materials, tools, and tips, you can turn your daily food wastage into luscious, nutrient-dense food for your plants. As well as being a great activity in which your kids can get involved, it’s an effective way to do your part in helping to save the planet. Here’s some information to get you started.
What is compost?
Compost is a natural fertiliser made from a variety of organic materials such as kitchen food scraps, paper products, garden leaves, and grass. Full of nutrients, compost is an excellent soil conditioner that helps boost the growth of your indoor and outdoor plants. Plus, homemade composting requires little investment, saves money (it’s free!), and teaches kids the importance of reducing food waste, nature, and gardening.
Compost is produced by a natural decaying process and results in a rich, nutrient-dense, dark, soil-like conditioner perfect for your garden. Additionally, composting at home is a great way to help our planet—it reduces the amount of food wastage in landfills, which destroy the ozone layer through gas emissions.
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A variety of organic and natural materials can be used in compost. Fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, flowers and leaves, eggshells, coffee grinds, tea leaves, plus paper products such as cardboard and newspaper are excellent materials to use.
Please avoid any animal products such as meat, bones, milk, and cheese, as well as rice, bread, cooked food, and oil. These will attract a variety of pests such as cockroaches and flies, and also make the compost very slimy and smelly.
It’s very easy to start composting at home. Firstly, you will need a small, indoor countertop food-scrap container or bin with a lid (to reduce kitchen smells) to put beside your sink or food preparation area. This will serve as a visual reminder whenever you are preparing food and will encourage you to make composting a part of your daily cooking routine. You can find a variety of small bins in major supermarkets.
When preparing food in the kitchen, save all materials such as fruit and vegetable scraps, apple cores, banana peels, and eggshells for your indoor food-scrap bin. A top tip is to chop, shred, and cut all kitchen compost materials into smaller pieces—this will help to create compost in a quicker time frame. Ideally, you want to empty your food-scrap bin every day into your outdoor compost bin. This will also help to reduce any odours or smells in the kitchen.
Secondly, you will need an outdoor compost bin. There are a variety of garbage bins available at major supermarkets. You will need to drill holes into the sides, top, and base of the bin to assist air ventilation for the composting process. Place the compost bin outside on a grassed area or soil. The overflow of moisture will naturally seep into the earth and help to fertilise your garden. Plus, placing your compost bin outside encourages the formation of important microbes and attracts certain insects—two factors important for successful composting.
Composting requires a mix of green and brown materials. Green materials are your kitchen food scraps such as veggies and peels, and brown materials are garden materials such as leaves plus paper products. A successful mix of brown and green materials will eliminate odours and sliminess, another two factors that determine the success of your compost. If in doubt, always add more brown material to reduce smells and slime!
Next, layer the green and brown materials each day. A layer of food scraps followed by dried leaves and paper products is a good routine. Ideally, decaying materials need to be moist but not wet. Moisture (plus air) aids the decomposition process. Then, lightly spray water from a bottle or a water jug. Top up the compost each day with layers of green materials and brown materials.
Once a week, it’s important to turn or mix the compost with a rake or fork as this will balance the moisture content and generate air circulation to create a successful, rich compost.
Depending on the above factors, you should have usable compost within four to eight weeks. Homemade compost is very similar to potting soil—it looks dark and crumbly and has a very mild, naturally earthy smell.
How to use compost
You can use your natural compost for all your home-gardening requirements—grass lawns, indoor flowering plants, outdoor vegetable and fruit gardens, raised beds, and potted plants. With a trowel, sprinkle a small amount of compost onto the plant’s soil and work in gently. Next, water lightly. Your plants will love the benefits of compost.
- Indoor countertop food-scrap bin or container
- Outdoor compost bin
- Rake or fork
- Water spray bottle or jug
MATERIALS TO COMPOST
- Fruit peels and scraps
- Vegetables peels and scraps
- Tea leaves
- Coffee grinds
MATERIALS TO NOT COMPOST
- Animal products: meat, bones, cheese, fat, butter
- Cooked food
- Starches: bread, rice
- Use a balance of green and brown materials.
- Place the compost bin in a warm, outdoor area.
- Turn the compost each week.
- Make sure the compost is moist but not wet.