Home composting - what is it and why should we do it?
According to The Royal Horticultural Society (and they should know), home composting is the most environmentally friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste, plus it produces compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver.
Composting is an inexpensive, natural process, it’s nature’s way of recycling and it helps to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill.
By composting kitchen and garden waste you can easily improve the quality of your soil and be well on your way to a more beautiful garden. In fact, composting is suitable for all but the smallest of gardens, but those with a small plot you could consider worm composting instead.
The following easy guide to home composting will provide you with all the information needed to get the best out of your bin.
Step one – placing your bin
It’s best to site your bin on a level, well-drained spot. This allows excess water to drain out and makes it easier for helpful creatures such as worms to get in and get working on breaking down the contents. Placing your bin in a partially sunny spot can help speed up the composting process.
Step two - put these in
Like any recipe, your compost relies on the right ingredients to make it work. Good things you can compost include vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant prunings and grass cuttings. These are considered “greens.” Greens are quick to rot and they provide important nitrogen and moisture. Other things you can compost include card and cardboard items, including egg boxes, scrunched up paper and fallen leaves. These are considered “browns” and are slower to rot. They provide fibre and carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. Crushed eggshells can be included to add useful minerals.
Step three – keep these out
Certain things should never be placed in your bin. No cooked vegetables, no meat, no dairy products, no diseased plants, and definitely no dog poo or cat litter, or baby’s nappies. Putting these in your bin can encourage unwanted pests and can also create odour. Also avoid composting perennial weeds (such as dandelions and thistle) or weeds with seed heads. Remember that plastics, glass and metals are not suitable for composting and should be recycled separately.
Step four – making good compost
The key to good compost lies in getting the mix right. You need to keep your greens and browns properly balanced. If your compost is too wet, add more browns. If it’s too dry, add some greens. Making sure there is enough air in the mixture is also important. Adding scrunched up bits of cardboard is a simple way to create air pockets that will help keep your compost healthy. Air can also be added by mixing the contents. After approximately six to nine months your finished compost will be ready.
Step five – using your compost
Finished compost is a dark brown, almost black soil-like layer that you’ll find at the bottom of your bin. It has a spongy texture and is rich in nutrients. Some bins have a small hatch at the bottom that you can remove to get at the finished product, but sometimes it’s even easier to lift the bin or to tip it over to get at your compost. Spreading the finished compost into your flowerbeds greatly improves soil quality by helping it retain moisture and suppressing weeds. Composting is the easiest way to make your garden grow more beautiful.
For more compost related information view the home composting video below.