The Compost Conversation – with Mikaela Beckley

Mikaela Beckley works with Yes In My Back Yard, (YIMBY), a community-scale composting initiative in Castlemaine and surrounds.

Layer your compost like a lasagne!

Regardless of whether you are cold composting, hot composting, or somewhere in between, paying attention to your layering technique will help your compost microbes stay alive, and thrive!

Picture a delicious piece of lasagne. Each layer spread evenly across the surface, thin enough for just a hint of the previous layer to show through. Each bite fills your mouth with a delicious combination of favours, salty cheese, firm pasta, rich tomato sauce, textured meat or lentils, creamy bechamel, a hint of herbs and nutmeg…is your mouth watering yet?

Taking the same care with layering up our compost pile is really worthwhile. You, and your microbes, will notice the difference.

Thin, diverse, horizontal layers, with just the right amount of moisture added, allows our composting microbes to easily feast on a balanced diet.

To take this food analogy one step further, without this attention to our layering, our compost piles can easily start to resemble a pile of nachos. Piled high and uneven, crunchy dry spots, soggy mushy patches, blobs of sour cream and guacamole. This might also sound yummy but replace sour cream and guacamole with rotting sticky vegetables and you begin to appreciate the benefits of spreading your layers thin and evenly.

Diversity in our layers is also key, not only for the nutrition needs of our microbes and soil, but also to keep our piles well aerated.

Imagine a lasagne with just layers of pasta and tomato sauce? A bit boring to the taste buds, but also probably a bit stodgy and dry. It’s those extra additions that really bring the dish to life, and it’s the same with our compost. Challenge yourself to not just repeat the same ingredients for your carbon-rich (brown) layers and nitrogen-rich (green) layers so you are really cooking up a compost treat!

– Course straw
– Kitchen scraps
– A sprinkle of coffee grounds
– Dry leaves
– Chopped up weeds
– A sprinkle of coffee grounds
– Fine straw
– horse poo etc

And don’t forget a generous topping of cheese, I mean, capping of straw on the top!

Happy composting.

Next week we’ll have a look at chopping up your food scraps to help your compost microbes.

– Mikaela Beckley works with Yes In My Back Yard, (YIMBY), a community-scale composting initiative in Castlemaine and surrounds. Send questions or comments to