Experienced gardeners know the benefits of using compost in their garden. Compost is a great way to keep your garden soil healthy and an environmentally friendly way of reusing and recycling your garden and household organic waste.
Are you a more advanced composter? Check out my ultimate guide to composting!
There are three main options for composting:
- buy a one;
- build one;
- use a pile.
The best choice will depend on the size of your garden and your ability to build stuff. If you have a large garden and a lot of garden waste you may opt for a compost pile or piles. If you have a smaller garden and prefer a neater option you could buy or build one.
Types of compost bins
There is a range of different compost bins and worm farms available that can help you manage your compost. On a large garden a compost pile can be made directly on the ground. Many people opt for a frame to contain the pile and make it stay together and look nicer.
There is a range of different compost bin styles.
- Compost bin directly on the ground
- Tumbler compost bin
- Composting tray / worm farm
Choosing a site
Choose a well-drained site that is convenient for you to add garden and household organic waste. If you are opting for a pile, you may want to find somewhere that is out of sight.
To make your compost, you can use the organic materials from your garden. Things like household food scraps and garden waste such as lawn clippings, weeds, leaves, twigs, branches. Larger materials like branches are only suitable if broken into smaller pieces. I suggest that you use a wood chipper shredder mulcher to reduce larger materials down to a size suitable for your compost.
Some ordinary garden dirt will also help speed things along.
What not to put in the compost
Some things should not be put into the compost. This includes plastic, metal, glass and other things that do not break down quickly. Also, weeds that spread rapidly using runners or bulbs should not be added to compost as they may take over.
Compost is best when it is a mix of ingredients so only grass clippings or only leaves etc… is unlikely to break down quickly.
Managing the compost
To compost effectively you need to manage the moisture and aeration of your compost. If the compost is too wet or does not get enough oxygen it will not break down quickly. A compost that is too wet or does not have enough oxygen will also make a bad smell. To increase the oxygen in the pile you can poke holes in it and turn it (some bins are made so that turning is easy, others you will need to use a garden fork or shovel).
Turning the compost
Turning the compost is a great way to aerate the pile and speed up the composting process. It can also maintain the right heat levels. Once the composting gets going the bacteria and fungus can generate a lot of heat. Sometimes in large compost heaps depending on the composition of the materials in the compost, this can cause a fire.
If you turn over your compost bin every second day you should have made compost that is ready to use on your garden by the end of four weeks.
If you turn the compost bin every other week you should have compost that is ready to use in 1 to 3 months.
- Organic garden and household waste
- Compost bin
Your finished compost should be cold and not smell bad. It should be soil like and crumbly to touch.
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