Composting at home is an eco-friendly way to recycle household waste and put some goodness back into your soil. The great thing is, it’s never too late to get started. Soon you’ll have a supply of free compost, bursting with nutrients to give your soil a boost.
Compost heaps work well in gardens which have the space for them as, generally, they are easier to access. Site it in a sunny or partially shaded position on soil to encourage worms to access and speed up the process. Compost bins are good alternatives for smaller spaces and, unlike heaps, are portable too.
Finally, there are tumbler bins which rotate. These speed up the process, but they aren’t as easy to assemble or maintain as wooden or plastic types. Visit getcomposting.com for more information. Some some local councils offer discounted bins to encourage people to recycle rather than sending waste to landfill.
Another great option is to install a wormery. Many are put of by the idea of keeping an army of worms but these little critters are really helpful. Rather than relying solely on micro-organisms to get the job done, the worms work quickly to break down waste.
Just wrap the waste in newspaper to avoid fruit flies and avoid adding citrus, spicy foods or anything from the onion family, as the worms don’t like them. It will only take about three months to get crumbly compost that’s ready to use, so start now to have homemade compost ready for spring!
Now you’ve got the plot and the ingredients, it’s time to get started! Put a 10cm layer of coarse material like twigs, straw or scrunched up cardboard on the bottom as to create air circulation and drainage.
This means using a garden fork to move waste form the bottom to the top. The idea is that this oxygenates the heap and enables micro-organisms to thrive, aiding breakdown.
Eventually, you can stop adding ingredients and leave the heap to mature, covering it to keep out rain.
You will know your compost is ready when it’s deep brown, crumbly and sweet-smelling. If it still smells rotten, wait a bit longer before harvesting.