These days, it’s only right and proper that we all do our bit to safeguard the future of our planet; not only for our own enjoyment but also for that of the generations yet to come.
Using garden compost at home makes a valid contribution to this quest, and gives us back a good return for our efforts in a very short time. Making garden compost at home really is very simple.
It needs a few very simple and easily obtained items to do a fabulous job and you don’t need any gardening knowledge at all; you just need to be able to follow a few simple guidelines.
You might even be unsure of what exactly you can add to your home composting project. No problem, check out the following…
Outside Waste for Garden Compost
- Lawn cuttings
- Soft prunings, not too woody or anything diseased
- All leaves including gutter leaves, rakings and swept up leaves
- Most weeds
- End of season annual flowers
Household waste for Garden Compost
- Leftover food and meals, but no meat, fish or dairy as this attracts rats and mice.
- Coffee grounds and teabags,
- Egg shells and cardboard egg boxes
- Dog and hair brush hair,
- Floor sweepings
- Fireplace ash
- Hoover bag contents
- Paper bags and till receipts
You will need some kind of container in which to start your compost. How big, will depend somewhat on how much organic waste your household tends to produce, and how much garden compost you want to produce.
If there is a shortfall in the amount of organic waste being produced at your house, you could always collect from friends and neighbors, etc. You may also find it useful in your compost quest to have a container with a sealed lid kept under the sink for example.
This way, any small quantities of kitchen waste, such as the odd apple core or bread crust can be put in the tub until it’s full, saving endless trips up the garden.
It’s handy to get to grips with the basics of how garden compost is created, and this in turn helps with the remembering of the composting at home guidelines.
Organic waste gets broken down by nature in several different ways. Fungi, worms, bacteria and other micro-organisms all chew up the organic waste. They also need the right amount of air and water to do the job.
Your garden compost project will need sufficient water. The compost pile needs to be damp, and not soaking wet, so ideally your compost bin should have some kind of lid.
Failing that, a piece of old carpet, or wad of newspapers to enable the worst of the rain to run off down the sides, will help. The bacteria and microorganisms need moisture to live. Too much and they will drown, too little and they will dehydrate and die.
Your garden compost project will need enough air. It’s a good idea to turn your compost pile with a pitch fork or something similar once every couple of weeks. This helps aerate the pile and provides sufficient oxygen for the organisms to survive.
As part of the task of supplying air to the compost pile, make sure you cut food scraps into small pieces. This ensures that the maximum amount of air can get to each waste piece and speeds up breakdown.
The size of your garden compost pile shouldn’t really be any bigger than 5 foot square; any bigger than this and the center becomes a bit of a dead zone where the air can’t get to it.
Also, your garden compost pile needs to be the right temperature. Done properly, the temperature will reach 140-150 degree Fahrenheit. When the compost is complete, and black and crumbly and not unlike dark soil, it will smell earthy and the temperature of the compost pile will drop to about 110.
One thing that does need a bit of attention is the balance of the organic matter that makes it onto the pile. There needs to be the right ratio of carbon to nitrogen, and that is 30:1. This is quite straightforward to achieve.
The best way to remember is that kitchen food scraps, grass cuttings and other soft stuff are high in nitrogen; wood shavings, dry leaves and other hard stuffs are high in carbon. Just try to keep a mix about half of each and the ratio will take care of itself.
So, despite the fact that you’re throwing leftovers and stinky garden stuff on the compost heap, you will be left with a lovely black crumbly compost that will do your garden no end of good.
You’ll have all those beneficial nutrients going back into the soil to make your garden look so much better and not clogging up a landfill somewhere.
Composting at home is a win-win situation, but like most things worth having, it just needs a little bit of effort.
If you make that little bit of effort, you’ll be left with a wonderful garden compost that will do you and your garden proud.