Some Tips on Making Compost
Using your own compost is the best way towards making a beautiful organic garden
Why not recycle your organic kitchen and garden waste by
making compost and then using this to feed your plants or use as a mulch?
First you'll need some sort of compost bin/container.
Your choice of composter is very much determined by how much space you've got for your compost bin or how big you want it to be. Up to a point larger is better but if you make your own remember you may have to get it through doors or gateways to its final site. Also if you move house and want to take it with you size will be especially important.
Try to site it where it will be convenient to access. If you want to buy a compost container, there are several companies on our Composting page selling a range of different types: wooden ones, plastic ones, worm composters; there are also sites you can visit giving information of how to make your own composter. You can make compost in a plastic bin liner/sack but it takes a long time; see the end of this page for some details.
If you only have a small space for a composter, then a plastic one may well be the most practical; these can be fairly compact; they have a lid at the top to fill from and usually a 'door' of some sort at the bottom where you can remove the rotted compost. And you can buy one made from recycled plastic. Some councils enable you to buy a plastic composter (usually one per household) at a reduced price, or even free.
The art of making good compost seems to be a bit of a black art.
Some people appear to have the knack, others don't. In our experience, compost doesn't always turn out like that shown on TV gardening programmes! Below are some suggestions, hints and tips that should help but its likely that you'll have to experiment and find out the best methods to suit you. If the compost is not perfectly as you would like don't despair, dig it in or even spread it as a mulch around plants as early as possible in the year and the end results will probably be very rewarding.
|What's Good to Compost?
|Tips to Improve your Compost
(This is brief; for our detailed reference page see the bottom of this page)
Making compost using a wormery is fun, especially if you like worms!
There are many wormeries on the market, you can find information on several of these on our Composting page.
The same basic rules of composting apply to wormeries, including what to use and what not to use, as above. If you buy a wormery, it will almost certainly be supplied with instructions.
In our experience, it takes a while to get a wormery started - well the worms have to become acclimatised to their new surroundings! Also the quantity of compost produced is not great, but the quality is. We have a tray at the bottom of our wormery which catches the surplus liquid; this makes an excellent liquid fertiliser.
|Making Compost in a Plastic Sack
We haven't much experience of this method, but we have found it useful when collecting large quantities of leaves because the woody stalks are slow to decompose. Putting them into bin bags for a few weeks, or even months, starts the process, then they are mixed with the main compost. However, you can make compost in a large plastic bin liners with the normal garden and kitchen waste. It is likely to take a long time, about six to twelve months, for the organic matter to decompose into reasonable compost. This is because you are making compost without oxygen and this slows the process down; it's called anaerobic composting. All you do is fill up your plastic sack with organic waste, see What's Good and Bad to Compost above; try to ensure there's a mix of textures, add some crumpled/torn paper if necessary. We've read that to improve the compost, to each bag mix in about 15ml (1 tbspn) garden fertiliser and 225ml lime. Close up the top of the bag and leave it. When you open up the bag, you'll probably find what's in the bag is a bit (or a lot) smelly and could be soggy, especially if the mixture was quite wet; however, it'll still be good for the garden in the long run!
To learn more about Wormeries, see the detailed Reference page on Tips on Wormeries, Worm Composting and Vermiculture.
|By Brenda Shaw|
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Originated: 30 September, 2001, Last amended: 27 October, 2013