If you’re a keen gardener, why not save money by making your own compost? It’s an easy process and apart from taking the time to use the correct raw materials and giving your compost a fork over regularly, there is very little work involved.
The Benefits of Composting
Composting is an organic gardener’s dream. It’s good for your garden and it’s good for you. But if you are not yet convinced, here are the key benefits of composting:
Compost is great for growing plants and vegetables – everything grows better in compost-enriched soil
Adding compost increases the moisture content in the soil so you don’t need to water as often
Compost can repair soil damage caused by pesticides
Compost is an eco-friendly way of disposing of vegetable peelings and garden waste – throw your waste into a compost bin instead of using your dustbin
How to Get Started
In order to make compost, you firstly need some kind of container. Compost bins are readily available from garden centres or online stores, or you can make your own by erecting a small enclosure from wood or wire mesh.
Location is important. Ideally a compost bin needs to be sited in a sunny spot in the garden as heat helps to speed up the decomposition process. Shade won’t prevent decomposition from happening, but it will significantly slow it down.
Adding the Right Ingredients
For best results, you need to add a variety of nitrogen-rich material to your compost bin. Green material such as grass cuttings, vegetable peelings, tea and coffee grounds and dead flowers are all beneficial. You can also add brown material such as ripped up newspaper, straw and small pieces of cardboard. However, there are some things you shouldn’t add to a compost heap. These include:
Meat and dairy
Take Care of your Compost
Composting relies on airflow and warmth for success. Place woody material, such as branches and twigs on the bottom and layer up to increase airflow. Alternate green with brown, so every time you throw in some grass cuttings, add a layer of straw or paper. This will help to balance the compost and increase its moisture content.
Turn your compost regularly to ensure the materials are well blended together. Don’t be afraid to dig your hand in to see if it feels damp enough. If your compost is too dry, it will take a long time to decompose.
Nothing’s happening! Cold conditions prevent decomposition, so you will have to be patient
My compost is all slimy! Adding too much of the same material can lead to slimy compost. Remove the slimy layer and throw in some brown stuff, for example paper or straw
As long as you take the time to choose the right location, add the right ingredients and look after your compost, you should end up with a dark, crumbly material. Do remember, though, that composting doesn’t happen overnight. It may take months for you to see any tangible results from your composting efforts, so don’t give up if nothing appears to be happening in the compost heap.