Contributed by Sofia Lewis.
Making compost is fairly simple, with not much effort and without costing you too much, you can turn scraps of food such as vegetables, fruit peelings and grass clippings into dark nutritious compost.
When used, it provides nutrients to the plants and can enrich your garden soil. It also reduces the amount of garden and kitchen waste going to landfill sites so benefits the environment. You are also creating your own garden fertiliser! Composts can be started in a compost bin or just in a simple heap.
Composts bins are very useful for decomposition and work best with a lid to keeps pests like rats and mice out whilst at the same time keeping the moisture in. Wherever you place the compost bin ensure that the ground is level and provides good drainage. A little sunlight is good, too much will dry out your compost.
What can be used as compost?
- grass cuttings
- fall leaves
- dead flowers
- old newspapers
- vegetables and food scraps
- egg shells
- tea leaves and tea bags
Some dos and don’ts
- Never add meat and dairy products, metals, plastic and glass and large branches;
- Shred and cut everything into smaller pieces, which break down a lot easier and quicker.
- Avoid putting anything in your garden that has been chemically sprayed;
- Do not compost rhubarb leaves as they contain chemicals which can be harmful.
Secondly, add brown ingredients such as a layer of dry leaves, broken up twigs, dried glass clippings and shredded paper.
Thirdly add green ingredients such as fruit peelings, fresh lawn clippings, fresh leaves and weeds.
Remember to add water after each layer to keep the heap moist but not too wet. Repeat the layers until your compost bin is full or all your materials are used up. It is a good idea to sprinkle some soil or compost that has been made before on top of the food scraps which will make a richer compost and help any bad smells.
If you have too much green stuff it can lead to a rotting pile, if you have too much brown stuff it can take years to break down. Obtaining the right mix requires patience. Compost needs to be adequately moist in order to survive and it also needs oxygen by regularly turning the mixture.
Leave the compost for a few weeks, it should initially heat up, which starts to break down the materials, then cool down. A slow composting system can mean that the compost is not enough or there may not be enough air or water so make sure you rake the mixture, this will ensure you are adding air and check it is always moist to touch.
When the compost pile is finished it should be dark brown and loose to touch. It should also have an earthy smell to it. Compost readiness varies, it can turn into rich soil from anything to 1 – 6 months.
Problems – bad smells could be as a result of not enough air circulation or the pile may be too wet,
try adding dry materials such as shredded leaves. If the mix is too dry add some moist kitchen scraps.
Healthy soil is essential for healthy plants and a flourishing garden. Compost can do a lot of the hard work for you by increasing the nutrients in the soil and improve drainage.
Sofia Lewis is a passionate freelance article writer and blogger. She is inspired by home improvement projects and writes mainly about cleaning, green-living, gardening and home related topics.