I am truly a beginner to composting. I only started last year but I am so excited to see the wonderful, hot, steaming pile of composted matter, that I want to share some tips that I've picked up along the way.
So, why compost? Firstly, it is a waste-free way to get rid of your food scraps and garden waste and not send them to land fill. Don’t be fooled by the idea that sending them to the dump is ok because they biodegrade. I’ve heard that in landfill, under piles of other waste and without access to light and oxygen, organic matter cannot decompose properly. When it does break down in this environment, it creates methane gas which contributes to climate change. Secondly, it’s a fantastic way to create nutrient rich soil that can be dug into your garden. This is especially great if you want to create a garden to grow food and flowers. It also reduces the need to use chemical fertilisers and pesticides
Here are some composting tips that helped me:
Get yourself a kitchen counter compost bin for all your fruit and vegetable scraps.
Build or purchase a compost bin for the garden. You can build an open bin which works in larger gardens or buy a ready-made compost bin like mine which has a lid. An open bin is great if you have a large garden with loads of fallen leaves in the Autumn and lots of grass cuttings in the summer.
Find a good location in the garden where it isn’t an eye-sore and a bit of a distance from the house as it can smell a bit. Make sure the chosen location is level and well drained allowing worms access to the compost in which they will do the valuable work of breaking down the content.
Throw in all of your vegetable peelings, tea bags, coffee grinds, plant prunings, grass cuttings and dead flowers. I also add the waste from our rabbit hutch – wood chippings, straw and rabbit droppings.
Throw in some torn up newspaper or egg cartons as these are slower to break down than provide fibre and vital structure to your heap. They also create little air pockets in the heap which will keep the compost healthy.
There are some composting no no’s: no meat or dairy products, diseased plants, dog poo or babies nappies as all of these things will encourage unwanted pests and smells. Also avoid adding any perennial weeds or weeds with seed heads.
Turn the compost heap regularly to keep it aerated and leads to faster composting. I use a fork but there are some special aerating tools on the market.
Keep the balance right by keeping the right mix of ‘browns’ and ‘greens’. If the compost is too wet add in more ‘browns’. If it’s too dry, add in more ‘greens’. See list below.
Boost the system with a compost activator. These encourage the corrects enzymes in your compost which can speed up the composting process.
Once it is ready, use your compost in your garden to boost the quality of the soil and to stop weeds growing.
Composting ‘Browns’ and ‘Greens’
Coffee grounds/tea bags
Veg and fruits scraps
Tree and plant prunings
Annual weeds with no seed heads
Cleaned egg shells
Animal manure (no dog or cat manure)
Straw or hay
Cardboard without wax coating