Learn How to Compost

Compost is a wonderful natural fertilizer made up by all your kitchen waste and garden waste. It uses organic materials like your vegetable scraps and is broken down by worms and insects to make natural fertilizer that helps the soil retain moisture, helping your plants and lawn grow.

In order to get your compost to break down efficiently and effectively you need a mixture of green nitrogen materials and brown carbon materials, which we will get to a little further on.

The biggest advantage of composting is that it is such a natural way to recycle and you reduce the amount of waste you are adding to landfills.

 

Bins

You need to start at the very beginning by finding the right compost bin for you. It’s always advisable to have a sealed container in your kitchen for all your kitchen scraps; this just reduces the need to run outside in all types of weather to add it to the compost bin.

You get three types of compost bins, two are designed for outside use and one for inside use, so when learning how to compost, you need to determine whether you have space in your garden for a bin and whether you’re going to buy one or make your own.

When buying a compost bin you don’t need a huge bin, especially if you only have a small garden. As long as it is sealed you will keep rodents and small animals away. The advantages of these bins is that they are affordable while the disadvantages are that they are hard to turn and there is little air circulation, which can offer some unwelcome odors.

You can always choose to make your own compost bin. Ideal for those with a little DIY know how, all you need it four wooden posts, some wire mesh and some wooden slats.  Start by adding your four wooden posts equal distances apart in a square shape, wrap your mesh around them and along the bottom before adding your wooden slats to the sides and you have your own wooden homemade compost bin.

Homemade bins offer good air circulation, they hold lots of compost, they are easy to turn and cheap to make. They can include one disadvantage though and that is you may be faced with some unwelcome rodents and small animals.

Indoor compost bins are the perfect solution for apartments or homes with limited garden space. These require worms to do the work, the problems you may be faced with is trying to keep your pets away from the bin and some unwanted odors in your home. Of course you have to be comfortable with the fact that you have red wriggling worms living in your kitchen.

Compost turners seem to be very popular when it comes to compost bin choices, these require very little work and they are so easy to turn. While they are slightly more expensive than ordinary compost bins they don’t hold much and you will find it very hard to make it yourself.

 

The Art of Compost Making

I call compost making an art, because it is. You probably think it’s easy, but there are problems that you can be faced with and being able to make compost into dark, earthy and crumbly material takes time and effort.

Remember I mentioned the green nitrogen materials earlier. Well these materials are essential in making compost, they cause the moisture and include vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grinds, egg shells, garden waste, fruit, paper towel and grass cuttings.

Your green nitrogen materials must be combined with your brown carbon materials to make nutrient rich natural fertilizer for your garden. The brown carbon materials include sawdust, wood chips, dry leaves, pasta, rice, bread, shredded wood and well shredded paper.

There are a number of things you must never add to your compost heap and when learning how to compost, bearing these items in mind will determine whether you succeed or fail.

Whatever you do, you must never add dairy products, sawdust from treated or painted wood, weeds, diseased plants, pet manure, meat or fish or bones. All of these things will destroy the natural goodness you are trying to achieve by making your own compost.

 

Getting Started

Your first step is to find an area in your garden with good drainage where you can place your compost bin. Obviously you don’t want it too close to the house, somewhere at the bottom or the garden is always a good option.

Loosen the soil before placing your bin, this allows the worms and insects to work their way up into the bin and does their job in helping you make your compost. Once your bin is placed you can start adding your materials. Start with a generous layer of brown carbon materials and then a generous layer of green nitrogen materials. Keep alternating them until you have exhausted all your spare waste.

Mix the layers well to allow air circulation and then check the moisture content a day or two later. You want your compost to be damp, but never wet. If you feel your compost is too wet, you can add some brown materials and if it’s too dry, add some green materials. Mix it well and leave it with the lid firmly fitted.

Every ten to fourteen days you will want to go to your compost bin with garden fork or spade in hand and turn it, you turn it from bottom to top. After three to four turns your compost should be ready. You will know it’s ready because it will be dark, crumbly and have a distinct earth smell. You’re not finished yet though; you will need to leave this compost for another few months before you can use it on your garden.

 

Potential Problems

When learning how to compost you may be faced with a couple of problems that you will need to resolve before your garden can enjoy the benefits of great compost.

 

  1. You may find that nothing is happening. This may be because your heap is too dry, adding some green materials and turning it may help. Sometimes smaller amounts take longer because they don’t heat up as much as the larger piles.
  2. Your compost bin smells. There is nothing worse than a stinky compost bin in your garden, this can be a result of the compost being too wet or not having enough air circulation. Add some brown materials if your compost appears too wet or turn it thoroughly to allow air circulation, this should reduce the odor.
  3. Insects everywhere. A common problem when learning how to compost is dealing with unwelcome insects. This can be caused by your compost being wet and starting to smell, add some brown materials over the top and see if that reduces the insect infestation around the bin.

 

Using Your New Compost

Right you’ve built a compost bin, saved all your kitchen scraps and make beautiful crumbly, earthy dark compost. Now is the time to see if it works, give your plants and lawn the wonderful natural properties that compost offers along with the soils ability to retain water.

Add a thin layer of compost to your lawn. Cover the entire lawn so it can absorb the nutrients, helping it stay green and healthy. When it comes to potted plants, flowers in the garden and shrubs, you will want to add a generous amount of compost to the soil, mixing it up so the plants can benefit from the natural minerals it provides.

 

How Did You Do?

How did you do? If you follow the easy steps on how to compost you should be able to have great compost for your garden within a few months. It’s not an overnight solution and will take some time and effort from you.

As long as you remember to turn your compost every ten to fourteen days and leave it for a few months before using, it should have all the essential nutrients your plants need to thrive.

Don’t get impatient, the best way to work with a compost bin is to forget about it except when turning or adding to it. By having a sealed bin in your kitchen you can collect a large amount of waste before taking it outdoors and adding it to the pile.

Think of all the good you are doing by making your own compost. You reduce the amount of waste your home makes and you reduce the amount of waste you send to the land piles. You are taking your recycling to a whole new level by naturally recycling all your waste into something good that will benefit your garden.

Of course if you don’t think that composting is for you, you can choose to buy fertilizer from the garden center, but do these fertilizers have the natural goodness that you can provide by adding your waste to a compost bin, adding a little bit of your time and making your own superb compost?