What do you love about compost?
There's a reason it's also called Black Gold! Home-made compost is a great way to reduce your environmental impact whilst getting you closer to growing your own food for free.
Okay I'm convinced, so what are the basics?
Essentially, it's decomposed organic matter; anything that was once living can go into the mix to make your compost. You'd be surprised how much of this stuff we throw out without realising. All kitchen scraps, toilet roll tubes, amazon boxes, kitchen roll, coffee grinds, small animal bedding, letters and cards.
What about leaves?
Definitely. With leaves we are just mimicking nature. The leaves fall in autumn, break down over winter, and provide precious nutrients for next years growth. It's worth raking any leaves into a pile and running over them with a lawn mower to increase their surface area before they go in the heap
...and grass clippings?
Also great. When adding grass clippings, add a few large armfuls and mix this in with a fork. Repeat this a few times and stop when the grass is visibly abundant. The rest can go in the green bin.
How do I get started today?!
You need just two things; a small space in your garden preferably near your kitchen, and a container for all the compost ingredients. Facebook marketplace is great for finding second hand bins and containers, often for free!
If you can, place the bin on open ground. Worms will soon come up and feast, helping the compositing process happen faster.
Once you've found a spot and a bin, it's time to start filling. For the first month or so, just put anything and everything in and let it pile up. Once it's about 1/4 to 1/3rd full, you can start turning the mix once or twice a week with a garden fork. This allows adds oxygen to the mix allowing the bacteria to work faster.
When will I know it's ready?
It'll take a while so patience is a virtue. After 6 months the compost will start to smell sweet and clean and will start to look nothing like how it started. Grab a handful; it should be dark and clumpy. If so, fantastic! You've made your first batch of compost.
Do I just use it like normal bagged compost?
Add it on top of existing garden beds or mix it with some garden soil and add it to containers or pots. Next trip to the supermarket pick up a few packets of salad seeds and sow into your compost and you'll be picking fresh plastic-free home-grown organic leaves in no time!
Is it good for the environment?
Think about it this way. All the things that could go into your compost, but don't, get taken away by the council and driven to sorting facilities where it's processed and driven around some more. Some of it will be composted by the council who will then seal it in plastic bags and sell it back to you anyway.
By making your own, you can create a closed-loop system and take one extra step to helping the planet and connecting yourself with nature.
Now what should I do?
If you have any questions or tips for me please leave them below in the comments.
Charles Dowding: Making compost from garden and other wastes... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf6CGj7xpFE