By producing your own compost, less household waste is going to landfill – instead it’s getting back into the soil quicker. Microorganisms such as bacteria, actinomycetes and fungi work alongside the worms to break down the organic compounds. They consume the organic material for energy, breaking down complex structures to simpler elements.
It’s ideal to place compost bins on soil without a base which helps drainage, as well as increasing access to soil organisms which helps the process. Plastic composters are handy because they have a convenient hatch at the top to add new materials, and a hatch for easy removal of compost. Alternatively, making a compost heap from wooden pallets is a good DIY project if you have a lot of garden waste and a large space.
In the mix, it’s vital to get the right balance of green and brown materials. Green materials are those that are high in nitrogen and quick to rot such as fruit and veg peelings and grass cuttings. Brown materials are high in carbon, for example straw, hay, and cardboard. There should be around half and half of each, however if the mixture seems too wet and smells, add more brown material to help balance it out. On the other hand, if the materials are all woody and dry, adding more green materials will boost the process.
It can take anywhere between 3 months to a few years for compost to be ready. You’ll be able to tell when it’s got a crumbly consistency and is dark brown in colour with an earthy smell. When it’s ready, adding compost to your garden will improve soil by returning organic matter, whilst also improving drainage and water retention.