If it could, your garden would thank you profusely for giving it home-made compost.
The benefits are huge for the small effort that it takes, and you’ll feel like a proper gardener.
Home-made compost does all this:
- heavy clay soil will have a better structure, lighter and more open, so drainage will be better,
- adding it to light, sandy soil gives it more substance and structure, and water and nutrients will stay in the soil for longer,
- the organic content of home-made compost helps to build healthy soil, attracting earthworms and all the essential little micro-organisms,
- garden and kitchen waste is recycled on the spot in your garden instead of going to landfill or driven off to a Council recycling unit.
First you need a compost bin to keep it all in, any type will do, the type and size just affects the rate at which the compost is made and becomes useable. It’s best to have a lid and solid sides to keep the contents warm, this speeds the process up and helps to prevent it all drying out.
A double bin is great if you have space, when the first one is full all the contents can be moved into the neighbouring bin [turning the heap like this helps to speed up the process] then cover it and leave it to rot down and start filling the second one.
Site the compost bin on soil so that worms can get in easily, they do a great job helping to break-down the waste, and add the waste in thin layers of different materials.
Fill it with:
vegetable peelings, apple cores and fruit peel, bunches of flowers that are past their best, tea-bags and coffee grounds, egg cartons, brown paper, cardboard [unprinted and plain], including loo-roll holders.
Keep a small container either in your kitchen or outside the kitchen door to keep waste in and transfer it ti the compost-bin every few days.
grass cuttings [though not if they’ve been sprayed with any chemicals]
all the plant material from cutting back plants and dead-heading
small woody clippings from shrubs
Don’t include weeds or large woody stems, cooked food, and whilst horse manure is fine, dog and cat waste definitely isn’t.
Ideally the heap should roughly contain 25-50% of green waste and the rest made up of brown material e.g. cardboard etc. If it’s wet it needs more brown material and if it’s dry it needs more green stuff.
After a few months all that waste will have become dark, brown crumbly soil, it always feel like some kind of magic has happened.
Use it by spreading as a thick mulch on the soil, mix it into planting holes, or spread round the base of plants, it’s excellent for growing vegetables.
I’ve got a couple of compost bins at the allotment, but until I get the new garden better organised at home I’m using one of those big plastic ‘dalek’ type bins that was there when we moved in. They’re ok, easy and available from most local councils, but the design makes it difficult to get the compost out when it’s done, eventually I’ll have a pair of wooden bins.
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson.