Compost is one of the most valuable resources you can make for your garden. From small potted gardens to large backyards a worm farm will give you concentrated fertilisers suitable for all types of gardens.
The benefits are a long list of great news for the environment and will save you money in the process.
Benefits of composting
- Less rubbish in landfill
- Less methane production (a potent greenhouse gas)
- Free fertiliser for your garden
- Improves water retention of sandy soils
- Improves drainage in clay soils
- Prevents surface crusting of silty soils
- Increases aeration in compacted soils
- Keeps soils cooler in summer and warmer in winter
- Gardens requiring less watering
- Is useful as a fertiliser, a soil conditioner and as a mulch
- Recycle your kitchen scraps
- Recycle your grass clippings, garden prunings and autumn leaves
- Recycle your newspapers, egg cartons, toilet rolls and pizza boxes
Getting your compost balance right
All compost bins, or heaps, should lie on a soil base and need a balance of materials that:
- are high in nitrogen (eg blood and bone, chicken manure)
- contain carbon (eg dried leaves, shredded newspaper)
- contain both carbon and nitrogen (eg kitchen scraps, pea straw and green garden prunings).
A well-balanced compost consists of two materials – wet and dry, green and brown or fresh and dead.
Dry / brown / dead material includes: shredded newspaper, autumn leaves, pea straw, shredded cardboard, dry manure (but not cat or dog manure), or even a couple of shovels of garden soil.
Wet / green / fresh material includes: kitchen scraps, green leaves, garden clippings, coffee grounds, tea bags, fresh manure and grass clippings.
The proportions aren’t crucial, but generally for each bucket of wet material, it’s important to add a bucket and a half of dry material.
Fixing composting problems
Avoid putting in compost: animal meats and fats, dairy products, animal manure, glossy magazines, bones, diseased plants, weed seeds
If too wet or smelly add more dry or brown materials and allow the compost to aerate by turning it over.
If too dry or not generating much heat it may need more wet or green materials.
Read Part 2 of compost and worm farms: it’s all good news.
- Marta Lett
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