How to make your own compost

Your kitchen is a treasure trove of ingredients that can be used to make a healthy compost heap. There is no reason, no matter how small your garden, to not be making your own.

In today’s heavy populated world our landfills are under immense pressure and we can play a part to alleviate this burden by reducing our portion of waste. Start the recycling process in your own home and kitchen. Although some organic matter is not suitable for the compost heap, a large amount of waste is.

What can be used for your compost heap?

Compost consists of pure organic matter. You can use leaves, garden refuse, fruit, vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds and used tea bags.

Adding sawdust to the mixture will accelerate the process. Do make sure though that your sawdust is clean with no machine or chain oil residues. Scatter the saw dust thinly to avoid clumping.

Compost activators will also help the process on.

Waste not suitable for your compost heap?

  • Stay clear from cooked foods, meat, bones and fish scraps. (Unless you are using a composter specifically designed for this purpose.)
  • Do not add any weeds or diseased plants.
  • Avoid pet waste, including cat litter.
  • Lemons and oranges are too acidic for the compost heap and should rather be avoided.
  • Stay clear from waste that has been sprayed with pesticides.

Add some style to your kitchen

Use a stainless steel or ceramic container with a lid and air filter in your kitchen to store the waste until you are ready to move the waste over to your composter.

Do you have a small garden?

No need for a large garden to use your waste more constructively. Several sizes of composters are available from your hardware store. They are compact and build to make the process of compost effortless.

Save water

Soon you will be able to reap the benefits of making your own compost. Become more self-sustainable and clever as to how you use your water:  start a herb and vegetable garden, plant fruit trees or sow flower beds. These will reap plenty more awards than our traditional water guzzling gardens.

Opt for an alternative lawn solution like Easigrass to have a beautiful lawn all year round – but without all the hassle and water bills.

A few easy steps

  1. Place your composter or start your compost pile on the bare earth. This gives worms and other organisms access to your compost and will carry the compost to your beds and help to aerate the pile.
  2. Start with a layer of twigs or straw of a few centimetres thick. This will help with drainage and to aerate the pile.
  3. Add your composting materials in layers, alternating between wet and dry waste. Moist ingredients are food scraps. Dry ingredients are e.g. straw, leaves, sawdust and bark pieces.
  4. Add a nitrogen source to activate and speed up the process. A compost activator is an easy and effective option.
  5. Keep your compost moist. Rain will be sufficient if the pile is kept open. Alternatively add some water – it should not be soggy.
  6. Cover your compost. This will help to retain moisture and heat, as well as prevent over-watering by the rain.
  7. Turn your pile every few weeks to aerate.


Kirsten, K., 2007. Gardening with Keith Kirsten. Struik Publishers/New Holland.