Making compost is one of those eco-friendly activities that provides multiple benefits. The organic matter you produce improves the fertility and productivity of t garden while at the same time disposing of wast otherwise have to be recycled or put out with rubbish.
It is estimated that 40 per cent of the contents of the average dustbin can be composted.
Compost is an excellent way of improving the structure of your soil. It is also a rich source of humus, which provides nutrients essential for plant growth. Regular applications of compost to your vegetable beds means that you do not have to rely on chemical fertilizers, which can harm insects and animals as well as get into the food chain.
You will also need to water less, since soil that is rich in nutrients does not dry out so readily.
You can make compost simply by building a heap of organic matter and covering it with cardboard or polythene.
Compost bins, however, are neater and can be easier to manage. Many local authorities now provide home composting bins at a low price. Alternatively, you can buy one from a garden centre or build your own from timber offcuts. Compost bins with turning handles save effort and help to speed up the process of decay. Bins come in various sizes; ifyou have enough room, consider having two or
more, so that one can be rotting down while a second is being filled. Whatever container you choose for your compost, it must have a lid or cover.
Some people view the compost heap or bin as an eyesore and keep it well out of view. However, having to make a long trek down to the bottom of the garden on a cold and
rainy night to dispose of kitchen waste won’t encourage you to compost, so make sure your bin is located where it is casily accessible. For best results, the bin should be
placed directly on top of bare soil or turf and in a sunny or semi-shaded position, but not in deep shade. Keep it away from wet areas.
Compost isn’t difficult to make provided that you use the right ingredients. You can simply add waste
to the bin or heap as and when you want to. However, this rough an ready method will take time to yield usable compost – up to a year in some cases- and the end result may not be
pleasant to handle.
For high-quality compost and specdier results, you need to put more effort and thought into it.
Ideally, compost should have a light, crumbly texture, be sweet-smelling and dark in colour.
It is important to ensure that you compost a balance of green and brown materials – the green materials rot quickly and exclude air, while the brown materials open up the mixture and create air spaces. You can either fill the bin with alternate layers of green and brown ingredients or add
bulky brown materials to kitchen waste as you go. A filed bin will heat up in a matter of days; a bin that you add to gradually may never heat up .
Turning the co post on a regular basis will speed up the process of decay. Mix it well with a garden fork. If the mixture is soggy, add more brown materials to dry it out.
If it is dry, add water. Manure and garden soil can also help to promote a more rapid breakdown.
Compost is ready when the contents of the bin or heap are dark brown, crumbly and earthy. This process may take anywhere between six weeks and a year to accomplish.
When this stage is reached, leave the compost for a further
month to mature before using it on the garden.