How to make your own compost
All gardeners know the benefits of adding nutrients to the soil to grow plants, vegetables and herbs. Compost is also good for indoor plants too. One popular source of nutrients is compost which can be bought in bags from garden centres or can be quickly and easily made in your garden – for a fraction of the price.
‘In a nutshell’ the art of making compost is to place organic materials and waste in a container, mix them with water – to keep them moist – and to turn the pile regularly so that the bacteria thrives and aids the de-composure. The result is a rich, soil-like material that will give your garden a really nutritious boost!
Making compost is an eco-friendly hobby to have as it is an efficient way to recycle much of your kitchen and garden waste into something very useful. Compost making is not smelly or time-consuming and in fact, very satisfying. It is really invaluable to regularly ‘feed’ your garden with compost, which is why it is often referred to as ‘black gold’. by gardeners. Why send your kitchen rubbish to a landfill site when it can be easily converted into the ‘king of nutrients’ for your garden?…
10 steps to successful compost production!
1. Choose your style of composting
You can either make a small compost heap in the back corner of your garden or if you prefer the tidier approach, you can buy a compost bin or use a pallet box. An old plastic dustbin is ideal too.There are certainly many expensive versions of composting bins on the market, but in reality, there is no need to spend much – if anything – at all.
2. Decide on the location of your composting
Ideally, if you are not using a container, you need to make your compost pile on a piece of flat, well-drained soil that enjoys plenty of sunlight.
3. Prepare your compost heap.
Making a compost heap is a little like making a layer cake! At the bottom of your compost heap put a generous layer of twigs. Cover this with a thick layer of dried leaves. Next you have to make layers of nitrogen-rich and then carbon-rich scraps. Ideally the heap should end up about one metre tall, but if this isn’t possible, ‘small is beautiful’!
4. Make defined layers of two types of waste
To successfully make compost, you need to layer your compost heap with waste from both of the following two lists in equal quantities.
Nitrogen-rich materials include:
Vegetable peelings and cores
Old tea leaves
Carbon-rich materials include:
Dead leaves and pine needles
Paper towels, napkins and egg cartons
Dried grass cuttings and straw
Lint from the vacuum cleaners
Small pieces of cardboard
Dead indoor plants
5. There are some kitchen waste items to avoid
Certain materials are not ideal for the compost pile especially as they go rotten and attract flies. These include:
Onions and garlic (these repel the insects necessary for compost making)
Citrus peel (this also repels insects)
Meat and fish bones
Fat, oil and grease
Any milk products
Scraps of cooked foods
Any toxic substances
6. Continue to build your compost heap
Build up the layers to use all your scraps and add to your compost heap as often as you like – but continuing to layer in equal quantities . It is really useful to keep a bag of dried leaves for the carbon-rich layer. In the kitchen, near the sink, you can keep a small box for peelings (nitrogen-rich) which can be regularly added to the compost. A good compost pile needs to be one that can can be easily and regularly turned.
You will find that your compost heap will keep shrinking in size as the scraps in it decompose.
7. Help your compost
To get good compost more quickly, there are a few key tips to follow. When you add dry materials, always add some water as the compost pile needs to be kept damp – rather than dripping wet. If there has been no rain for a few days, water your compost once a week.
Test to know whether your compost is damp enough and whether you have the correct ratio. This can be done by digging into the middle of your compost heap – the the middle should be warm/ hot. If you take a thermometer reading it should be 54- 65ºC (130 -150F).
8. Regularly turn your compost heap
Once a week, or whenever you add new materials to your compost heap, give the pile a really good mix ensuring that you reach down to the lower layers to mix in new material and also mix the outer edges into the centre of the pile. Turn your compost so that the hot core is moved to the outside and a new core can begin work. This helps the compost to develop and also helps eliminate any odours as it aerates the compost.
9. Admire your compost!
After 2-4 months your compost will be ready and will be dark brown and crumbly like soil. It is important to check that the compost has finished decomposing before you start using it. There will be a thick layer at the top of your pile and this can be removed. Keep turning the remaining compost to continue the decomposing.
10. Use your compost for a healthy garden
● Sprinkle your lawn with compost a few times every year to feed it.
● Place a thick layer of your compost over flower beds and around the base of all your trees and shrubs to give your garden valuable nutrition.
●When you are digging your flowerbeds, mix some compost in with the soil.
● Add plenty of compost to your soil in the spring if you are planning to grow vegetables.
● Always add compost when planting or transplanting flowers, plants, trees and shrubs. When you are digging a hole for the plant, half fill the hole with a 50/ 50 mix of compost and soil.
* If you want to see the compost -making procedure in pictures, log onto:
And a real extra bonus!
Super boost your plants by making some compost tea. Steep some compost in water for 2-3 days at the ratio of 30:1. Strain the mixture. Use this nutrient-packed liquid as fertiliser for your plants and trees – you will be delighted with the results!
Why not give your garden a special treat this year – get composting!
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