Sunday, 16 October 2011

Composting 101

Making compost is FANTASTIC! It saves you money on expensive fertilisers for your vegetable patch (which itself saves you money on food), it gets rid of all your waste peelings and saves landfill, and it even helps to prevent some plant diseases.

If you don't already have a compost bin, I would definitely recommend getting one if you have a garden. Even if you don't grow vegetables, compost can be added to your flower beds to improve growth and even flower quality. Place your bin on a bare patch of soil and just start adding to it! It takes about a year for everything to break down properly, but you're left with a rich, dark compost that should be added to your soil and dug in to mix it.

Things to compost:
  • Vegetable peelings
  • UNCOOKED fruit – don't add any cooked material to the compost bin as it will attract rats
  • Grass cuttings – just make sure that the majority of your compost IS NOT grass cuttings, because if this makes up a lot of the volume the compost will be slimy and unpleasant!
  • Tea bags – rip open the bags and add the leaves to the compost. The bags do not break down well in the soil so you'll be finding them for years!
  • Old flowers and dead annuals
  • Cardboard and egg boxes
  • Bark and wood shavings
  • Stinging nettles – these are full of nutrients. Just be sure to remove the roots or you could find them taking up home in your compost!
  • Horse/cow poo (or the poo of any herbivore!)

Do not put these in your compost, as they will attract rats and will contain some nasty bacteria when it starts to rot.
  • Cooked food
  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Omnivore/carnivore poo, such as dogs, cats, pigs (or humans...)

You should also avoid putting diseased plants into the compost because it will contaminate your garden when you introduce the compost into the soil.

Some people also add dead leaves to their compost. This is fine, but the best thing to do with loads of dead leaves is to collect a huge bin liner full of them, store them somewhere out of the way and let them start to rot. If the leaves are dry when you collect them, spray them with water to speed up the decomposition process. This is “leaf mould”, which is not particularly high in nitrates (a component of fertilisers) but it is an excellent way to improve your soil structure, benefiting your garden in other ways. Do not use evergreen leaves like holly or conifers though.

My dad and I went for a wander down the lane earlier to collect some high nitrate plants to add to the compost bins. We got a couple of bags of stinging nettles, clover and bracken. We also came across the jackpot – a big pile of horse poo!! (Yes, I did wash my hands afterwards!!)

Do you compost and if so, what do you add to your bin?

1 comment:

saving for travel said...

We do compost, Mr Sft takes control of it, but I add vegetable peelings to our small bin.

Great advice and very frugal.

Sft x