Make your own compost
Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden. It is natures way of recycling and helps to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill.
By composting kitchen and garden waste you can easily improve the quality of your soil and be well on your way to a more beautiful garden. The following easy guide to home composting will provide you with all the information needed to get the best out of your bin.
Step 1 – Placing Your Bin
It’s best to site your bin on a level, well-drained spot. This allows excess water to drain out and makes it easier for helpful creatures such as worms to get in and get working on breaking down the contents. Placing your bin in a partially sunny spot can help speed up the composting process.
Step 2 – Put these in
Like any recipe, your compost relies on the right ingredients to make it work. Good things you can compost include vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant prunings and grass cuttings. These are considered “Greens.” Greens are quick to rot and they provide important nitrogen and moisture. Other things you can compost include card and cardboard items, including egg boxes, scrunched up paper and fallen leaves. These are considered “Browns” and are slower to rot. They provide fibre and carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. Crushed eggshells can be included to add useful minerals.
Step 3 – Keep these out
If you are composting using a black, 'Dalek' style compost bin or similar, or a simple compost 'heap', there are certain things that you should not add. Putting these in your bin can encourage unwanted pests, produce nasty bacteria and can also create odour.
No cooked vegetables, no meat, no dairy products, no diseased plants and definitely no dog poo, cat litter or babies nappies. Also avoid composting perennial weeds (such as dandelions and thistle) or weeds with seed heads. Remember that plastics, glass and metals are not suitable for composting and should be recycled separately.
Some compost bins, such as a Green Johanna or other types of hot compost bins, are designed to compost cooked food waste and meat. If you compost using one of these special compost bins then you can put those items in.
Step 4 – Making good compost
The key to good compost lies in getting the mix right. You need to keep your Greens and Browns properly balanced. If your compost is too wet, add more Browns. If it’s too dry, add some Greens. Making sure there is enough air in the mixture is also important. Adding scrunched up bits of cardboard is a simple way to create air pockets that will help keep your compost healthy. Air can also be added by mixing the contents. After approximately 6-9 months your finished compost will be ready.
Step 5 – Using your compost
Finished compost is a dark brown, almost black soil-like layer that you’ll find at the bottom of your bin. It has a spongy texture and is rich in nutrients. Some bins have a small hatch at the bottom that you can remove to get at the finished product, but sometimes it’s even easier to lift the bin or to tip it over to get at your compost. Spreading the finished compost into your flowerbeds greatly improves soil quality by helping it retain moisture and suppressing weeds. Composting is the easiest way to make your garden grow more beautiful.