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Composting can be confusing, with the never-ending options of components you can add to your pile. However, to balance the composition of your compost, you’ll need a good mix of nitrogen-rich wet greens, and carbon-rich dry browns. Here are some items you can easily obtain to add into your pile of compost.

1. Newspapers

A staple brown, newspapers will add carbon to your compost pile. Be sure to shred them first because a bundled mess of newspapers will hinder the necessary flow of oxygen.

2. Eggshells

This is another readily available item you can add to your compost pile, as we all know how quickly a household can go through a carton of eggs.

Adding eggshells to compost adds calcium to the makeup of your heap. This important nutrient, when added to soil, helps the plants to build cell walls and grow better and faster.

Wash them before adding into your compost so that you don’t attract any critters and reduces the risk of disease which raw eggs pose.

3. Dried leaves

Another commonly used carbon-rich brown, dead leaves can be easily found around your house. However, you do need to shred them before adding them to your pile. Layer them with fresh grass clippings or other greens, and moistened with water.

4. Fruit and vegetable trimmings

Scraps like cores, peels, skins, and stalks from vegetables and fruits are some other things you can compost instead of simply disposing them. You should keep them buried deep in your compost heap to prevent pests from appearing.

5. Tea bags

 

Compared to loose tea leaves, tea bags are more complicated to compost because they can be made up of a variety of materials, and not all of them may be natural fibres.

If you drink Nilufer Tea's organic and pesticide-free herbal teas, you can empty the contents into your compost pile and discard the bag.

6. Cereal boxes and other cardboard materials

It is critical that all the cardboard you use for your compost is shredded into small pieces because large pieces take longer to decompose.

Remember to turn the pile every five days to speed up the decomposition. In six to eight months, the compost should be ready to use.

7. Plate scrapings (excluding meat and bones)

Compost in a DIY bin typically doesn't get hot enough to break down meat or bones. So if you do want to use plate scrapings in your compost pile, avoid these items.

8. Juice pulp

 

If you’re the type who juices a lot, you can actually salvage the skins, peels and pulp for your compost pile. Not only does the fibrous pulp break down quickly, but it enriches your compost with a variety of nutrients too.

9. Used paper towels and napkins

Paper towels and napkins are considered carbon-rich browns and can be used as a substitute for dried leaves. Make sure they’re not overly greasy so they can decompose quickly. This is because oil and grease reduces the amount of air in your compost, eventually leading to the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which creates an unpleasant stench.

10. Hair (human or otherwise)

Yes, you can actually compost hair! After all, it is simply protein filaments and thus, natural. Spread the hair out so that the larger surface area can help it to break down faster and easier. It’ll take a bit more than a month for it to break down enough before you can add it to your garden soil.

11. Pencil shavings

 

Most pencils are made from cedar, a wood that insects hate. Using pencil shavings in your compost pile and subsequently soil therefore, prevents pests from appearing.

12. Latex balloons

Latex is a biodegradable material. So if you have tons of them lying around after a party, toss them in your pile – they’ll be gone within six months.

13. Pet droppings

If you’re set on minimising your household’s waste output, you may want to try composting your pet’s droppings. However, if you do, remember never to use it in any garden that is growing edible vegetables and herbs. Let it compost for a long time so as to kill off as many harmful microorganisms as possible.

Composting doesn’t have to be a confounding process, so get to it, and you’ll be doing a great service to the environment!

Composting is the process whereby organic waste biodegrades naturally into nutrient-rich soil for gardening. There are both anaerobic and aerobic composting; the former does not utilise any oxygen while the latter requires oxygen for composting.

If the idea of composting invokes images of a stinking pile of garbage slowly decaying in your yard, fret not! There is a proper way of composting and it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. So, rather than throwing away your kitchen scraps, why not try composting them at home? Here’s how you can do just that:

1. Get a compost bin and choose your location

To ensure good air circulation in your compost bin, drill small holes on the lid, the bottom, and the sides. The bin should be placed in an airy area without direct sunlight.

It’s important to ensure that your compost bin allows for air to circulate freely as the micro-organisms would require oxygen to decompose the waste. If there’s insufficient air, gases like methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide can be produced, causing unpleasant smells.

2. Start composting

 

You’ll need a good mix of browns such as dried leaves, cardboard egg cartons, and newspaper and greens like fruits, vegetables, kitchen waste, and coffee grounds.

Add extra newspaper or dried leaves towards the bottom of your bin so that it can absorb any extra moisture from your wet greens. Browns are carbon-rich while greens are nitrogen-rich, and the micro-organisms use them both as food. To prevent maggots from appearing, try to make sure your bin is made up of three parts dry browns, and one part wet greens.

Then you’ll need an accelerator. This is responsible for kick starting and quickening the breakdown of the organic matter in your compost bin. An example is buttermilk or manure. You can also shred the waste in order to quicken the process.

3. Continue to add materials until your bin is full

 

A good aerobic composting pile should be moist, but not excessively wet. If too much kitchen waste is added, it may begin to smell as the result of anaerobic bacterial action.

Compost, when added to soil, increases its productivity by retaining soil moisture, improving soil structure, and enriching it with essential nutrients. This promotes the growth of healthy plants. Moreover, it reduces the use of pesticides and fertilisers, many of which can be harmful to the environment.

4. Leave it alone

Because your pile needs aeration, you’ll need to turn the pile once in a while. Other than that, it doesn’t require much attention.

Aerobic composting prevents landfills from rapidly reaching their capacity. It also keeps organic waste, which often contain a lot of water, from being transported as well. Not transporting these wastes conserves fuel and energy. Because these organic materials don’t end up in landfills, it reduces the emission of methane into the environment. The overwhelming amount of methane gas in our atmosphere is a known contributor to global warming.

5. Use your compost

That’s it! Your compost is ready for use!

 

Depending on the materials you used, you’ll start to see that the result is a dark and crumbly mixture, with an earthy, soil-like odor to it after about 40 days (and especially if you contributed to your pile daily). Use it to grow your own produce and you’ll quickly get into the habit of composting.

Composting can help the environment in more ways than one, such as reducing water pollution. Fertilisers can be a major cause of water pollution, but when they are mixed with the compost in your soil, the compost binds to the fertiliser and prevents seepage and contamination of groundwater.

Written by Anna Fernandez

The natural goodness of herbs is a widely accepted – not only are their flavours used in food and drink but they are also used to relax the body and can be used to treat common ailments.  Many of us herb enthusiasts have dreams of planting our own herbs in soil and harvesting these plants that we helped nurture while they nurture us with their nutrients. However, if the idea of growing plants gives you flashbacks to the shrivelled up plants that you have tried and failed to grow, you are not alone. We’ve compiled a few tips which will help you achieve your herb garden dreams.

The thing about many herbs is that their natural climate to grow in might be different from Singapore’s tropical one. For this reason, you either have to pick plants that adapt well to our climate or replicate the conditions of their natural habitats. Mint is a plant with a high adaptability and is therefore an easier plant to start with. Furthermore, it has a range of health benefits!

1. Pick the Best Mint For You

There are a great number of mint varieties for you to choose from. From the popular spearmint and peppermint, to the lesser known horsemint, there is something to suit every taste and fancy. There are slight variations with use so pick a plant that suits how you use them. For instance, many people use spearmint for garnishing savoury dishes and use peppermint for sweet ones. The tastes of each variety are different as well so be sure to pick a mint that you like best.

2. Pick the Best Soil

Image cred: Aquaponics Wiki

The soil required for mint plants is a loamy type. This means that it should have different sized soil particles in order for air and water to penetrate. Soil available here is often clayey and retains too much moisture so mix it with lightweight expanded clay aggregate pellets (LECA) so that it is better for your mint plant to flourish.

3. Sunlight

Image cred: Tim Easley on Unsplash

The great advantage Singapore has is that it has sun all year round. For most types of mint, getting enough sunlight is a must. If you grow your plant indoors make sure you place your potted plant close to a window or at a location where it can get as much sunlight as it can get.

4.Water

 

Most mints grow naturally along the bank of streams and other water sources. This means that growing mint requires more care than simply sticking a cutting to the ground. You should monitor that the plant gets enough water daily. One way to check this is to put your finger in the soil to check its moisture. The soil should feel moist to the touch.

5. Pruning

Image cred: rawpixel.com on Unsplash

One thing that remains constant across all mint varieties is their ability to invade spaces completely. These plants are very hardy and they produce runners which can cause them to over-run and get out of control. One way to prevent is by planting them in separate pots. Another is through pruning. Pruning is an excellent way to keep plants producing new leaves and to prevent them from over-growing.

Armed with this knowledge, you are now prepared to embark upon the complicated journey of gardening. Though it requires some extra time and effort, the pleasure of being able to harvest fresh herbs for yourself makes all the work worthwhile. With a little practice, you may be able to grow an entire potted garden for your herb needs.

Mint is also a great addition to your teas. If you would like a minty tea, Nilufer Tea offers Orange & Chamomile herbal tea which has notes of mint for your drinking pleasure. Shop here now!

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