Composting guide

Person Author: Lajos Szabo Calender June 10, 2012 Posted Tags: Comment No Comments

If you have a large plot or a small garden you can easily turn some of your waste into compost. I read somewhere that 30% of household waste can be composted. It is great for the environment and your plants will love the improved soil what your homemade compost will provide. On the plot it is the best to have four pallets secured to form an open square bin. This will make sure that worms and other useful organisms can get into your compost bin easily.

You can add vegetable and fruit peels, don’t add a large amount of citrus fruit waste though as it can deter worms. Tea bags can go in there too, avoid any meaty stuff though. Grass clippings and weeds before they flower are a good bet too but make sure you break the weeds up a bit so they don’t start growing in your heap. The above items are the green materials to your compost which is only one part, you have to make sure that you add an equal amount of brown stuff too or you can end up with a slimy and smelly heap. Shredded cardboard and paper, chopped up woody twigs and prunings, leaves are all good to provide the longer to break down part for your compost. Crushed egg shells and chicken poo or if you have vegetarian pets like hamsters or bunnies their bedding is perfect material for your compost. Also if you have nettles and comfrey to spare add them to the heap, they good to speed up the process a bit.
In general if your compost is getting slimy add more brown stuff and if it is too dry and nothing is breaking down add more green stuff. Also make sure that the compost heap has some air circulation, it stands on the soil and it has on open top for the rain. If you have to cover your bin make sure you keep it moist. Many people have a problem with fruit flies swarming above the bins, this is an indicator that you have too much green in your compost, just add some cardboard and fork in the kitchen waste so the flies can’t reach it. Turn your heap as often as you can, this will speed up the composting, I really only manages to turn mine only once or twice and it still okay but takes time to break down completely and I can see the leaves in one place even after about 6 months as I added a big bag of them at some point and never turned the heap so turning is good. Try to keep a balance of 50/50 of green (wet) and brown (dry) materials, and don’t throw too much woody bits in there as it takes long time to break down.

After 4-6 months the bottom of the heap will be ready to use in your garden. The best to apply is a few weeks before you want to plant out your plants or sow your seeds in the area. The compost will improve the water holding capacity of the soil and increase the available nutrients to your plants. Home made compost contains large amounts of very useful microorganisms, their activity is essential to have a healthy soil and they make trace elements available for the plants.

You can use your compost straight in your garden even if it is not 100% broken down, I always have some bits and bobs showing but it is just fine, the process will continue in the soil. I even use my compost for potting on and in the greenhouse border to replace tired soil, but make sure you sieve it and mix it with a bit of ordinary garden soil. Happy composting!

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