Top Tips on How to Compost

You’ve heard everyone talking about their compost heap, you’ve seen your family and friends beautiful blooming gardens and you’re maybe wondering how to go about it.

Composting is not only a fantastic way to recycle naturally and reduce the amount of waste in landfills, but it is a completely natural fertilizer that will get your garden blooming in no time at all.

Generally composting can take a few months from beginning to end, so be prepared to be patient, but the wonderful natural minerals are well worth it when you see your garden benefit and your waste reduced. Once you apply your compost the soil in your garden will retain moisture, so your plants will benefit dramatically adding to one of the advantages of making your own compost.


Important Green Nitrogen Materials

When learning how to compost it’s important to understand the difference between green nitrogen materials and brown carbon materials, both of which are needed to have a successful compost bin.

The green materials are made up of vegetable scraps, fruit, egg shells, garden waste, grass cuttings, tea bags, coffee grounds and paper towels.

It’s a good idea to keep a bin or container in the house where you can collect all your kitchen waste without having to walk outside to your bin every time you finish cooking.


Essential Brown Carbon Materials

Brown carbon materials are made up of bread, past and rice, sawdust, wood chips, shredded paper, shredded cardboard and dry leaves.


Things You Must Never Add to Your Compost Bin

When you start composting you may be tempted to throw everything on the pile to make natural organic materials to make your garden grow, but there are a few things that should never be added and these include things like weeds, meat or fish, pet manure and bones. Other things include dairy products and sawdust from painted or treated wood.

Remember that your compost bin is meant to be as natural as possible and can save you a lot of money in the long run; you won’t need to buy fertilizer which can be expensive for larger gardens and you have the advantage of reducing the waste your home produces.


Types of Compost Bins

Now that you know what you can and can’t add to your bin, you’re probably eager to start, but you need a compost bin first. You may want to start by finding a sealable container for inside the home that you can add your entire kitchen scraps; this reduces the amount of time you will need to spend running outside after cooking.

An inside container means you can go outside once a day or when it’s full and add the contents into your compost bin.

You will need an outside compost bin and this is where you have a choice. You can purchase a readymade bin; it doesn’t have to be big as long as it seals to keep any small animals and rodents away.

Small plastic bins with sealed lids work great when you’re starting out. Add mesh to the bottom before adding your contents. While this way is inexpensive, it can be hard to turn the compost and there is little air circulation which can cause unwanted odors.

You can make your own, this involves a little DIY and is an affordable option. All you need is four wooden posts, some wooden slats and some wire mesh. These offer great air circulation, they are easy to turn and hold a fair amount of compost. The disadvantage is you may experience problems with rodents.

To make your own compost bin you will need to add four wooden posts at equal distances in a square shape. Then take your wire mesh and wrap it around the posts, sealing off your square before adding the wooden slats vertically to three sides. The fourth side will benefit with slats half way up, leaving you easy access for turning.

There are compost tumblers which are the easiest way to compost if you’re only starting out. They don’t require a lot of effort and they are so easy to turn. The problem is that they are expensive and they don’t hold a lot of compost. If you think they sound your best option, it’s good to know they are not easy to make yourself, which means you would have to purchase one.


Indoor bins are a good solution if you don’t have much outdoor space but want your own compost to reduce waste and use on your potted plants on your patio. When you do this type of composting, it’s important you understand that it involves worms and is called vermiculture. This is a fantastic option for anyone with limited space and that don’t mind sharing their living space with worms.


How to Compost

Now that you have a good understanding of what composting is all about, you know what you can or can’t add, you know what your green nitrogen materials are and what your brown carbon materials you are and you’ve bought your compost bin, now is the time to learn how to compost.

Firstly you will need to place your new compost bin in an area of the garden that offers excellent drainage. Before you place the bin, mix up the soil in the area so any worms can make their way into the bin with ease.

Start off by adding a layer of brown carbon materials, make it a thick layer, and don’t be shy. Follow with a thick layer of green nitrogen materials and then another layer of brown. Keep switching between green and brown layers until you have used all your materials. Combine the materials well, allowing air to circulate.

After a day or two check the moisture content in the bin, it should be damp but not wet. If it appears wet add more brown carbon materials and mix it up slightly, if too dry add green nitrogen materials.

Mix up your compost bin with a garden spade or fork every week or two, after you have turned the bin 4 or 5 times your compost should be broken down somewhat. You will notice that it is dark, has a subtle earthy smell and crumbles easily.

You may think you now know how to compost, which you do, but it’s not over yet. This great brown, crumbly and earthy compost must be left for a couple of months before you use it on your garden.


Adding Compost to Your Garden

When learning how to compost you learn what you can add to the pile, how long it should be between mixes and how long to leave it for after it’s turned crumbly and dark. But do you know how much your garden needs of this mineral rich fertilizer?

For your lawn you will want to add a thin layer all over the lawn which can be absorbed by the soil. As for plants and flowers, add a fair amount around the plant and mix in with a spade and then watch as your plants benefit from all the fantastic nutrients your compost provides.


Problem Solving

You’re probably wondering why you read an article on how to compost, it sounds simple enough, something anyone can do. You will be surprised how many problems you may be faced with, leading to bad odors, your compost isn’t crumbling or even insect infestations.

If you notice that your compost bin has an extremely unpleasant smell then there may not be enough air getting through, turning it over from bottom to top may help the air circulate. Another reason for a bad smelling compost bin is if it is too wet, add some brown materials and mix up to reduce the wetness and the odor.

If you’ve been working on your pile for weeks and nothing is happening, your compost may be too dry. Add some greens and mix up and see if that helps. It may also be that it isn’t getting hot enough, which is very common for smaller piles.

There are insects everywhere, all around the bin making it a very unpleasant item to have in the garden. Insects will be attracted to the compost bin, that is the aim, but if you have too many it may be because it’s becoming smelly. Add some brown materials and mix up and see if that reduces the amount of insects moving into your garden.


Is it for you?

You’ve got a beautiful manicured garden which costs you a fortune in fertilizer and maintenance, so you’ve decided to compost. If you know how to compost it can be easy, it only requires a little amount of your time every fort night and it can save you a considerable amount of money.

The biggest benefit of compost bins is how much waste you recycle rather than filling up the land piles and having lots of waste every week. Maybe you’re strict about your recycling making sure you recycle all your paper, plastic, tins and bottles. If this is the case, knowing how to compost and recycling all your kitchen waste will help the environment and help your garden bloom.