How to compost

Mother nature started recycling way before we did

Mother nature started recycling way before we did

Mother nature started recycling way before we did and making your own compost is the best way to see her in action. She employs a massed force of tiny creatures, some invisible to the naked eye to chew, nosh and mash their way through your garden and household waste to produce nutritious, sweet smelling compost, a must for all green fingered gardeners.

How do I start?

Start by obtaining or constructing a 'bin' to make your compost. Your local authority will usually provide a plastic compost bin for free or you can use any large container as long as air can enter and circulate through it. There are loads of useful web sites that give you complete instructions on how to construct your own, but to be honest, if you can get hold of a free one from the council, why bother!?!

Where do I build my compost heap?

A compost heap works most effectively if sited in a sunny position in your garden on a base of well drained soil. Start by loosening the surface with a fork and add a layer of manure or kitchen waste to attract worms and the bacteria you need to do the hard work for you.

Your army of worms, slugs, snails and countless other micro organisms will make the best compost for you, your part of the deal is to keep them warm, moist and oxygenated.

You do this is two ways; In periods of hot, dry weather water your compost once a week to keep it moist and prevent it from getting too dry. In periods of really cold weather try and insulate your compost to prevent it from getting too cold.

The temperature inside a compost heap will always be warm to help break down the material, however if you can help maintain the temperature it will speed up the process of decomposition. It's important to keep your compost covered at all times, whatever the weather.

What can I put on my compost heap?

Anything that will degrade naturally really, a full list is below. It's also more effective if you layer your compost heap with different textures of ''waste', too much of one thing i.e. lawn clippings will result in an ineffective compost heap!

Any amount

  • Uncooked Kitchen waste
  • A good mix of peelings are an excellent source of carbon and nitrogen.
  • Tea Leaves, used filter coffee
  • Eggs Shells
  • Weeds - chopped
  • Hair, pet or human - no problem to a compost heap!
  • Animal Manure - from veggie pets only such as rabbits or guinea pigs. These are a great activator for the compost heap.

In small amounts

  • Shredded paper and soft cardboard such as egg boxes.
  • Grass cuttings
  • Leaves - run over them with the lawn mower to help your workforce!
  • Bush or shrub pruning

Avoid completely

  • Shiny paper or brightly coloured, glossy flyers.
  • Nappies, Human/cat/dog Excrement - disease isn't destroyed by compost
  • Household or garden chemicals
  • Meat cooked or raw - this attracts pests.

When is the compost ready?

When it looks like soil and not like whatever you put in! It should also be mostly odourless and crumbly to the touch. Once it's ready fork it into your soil in early spring or late autumn where it will feed your soil and improve it's structure.

Why make compost?

It's a good way to reduce the amount of things we threw in the bin and as a result into land fill. It's also a great, FREE way of improving your garden.

If you have claggy, clay like soil (sticks together when wet), compost will help break it up and improve drainage by creating small gaps in the soil for water to escape.

If you have sandy soil, your compost will help stick it together and also help hold moisture for your precious plants.


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