Thinking about starting a compost journey but not sure where to begin? Fear not! Our easy 6-step guide will put you on the garden path to compost success!
Composting is a great way of giving your garden a helping hand when finished, it’s a natural fertilizer. It can help your plants grow faster and it’s a good way to enrich the soil in your garden. But most importantly, it stops a huge amount of your household waste ending up in landfill.
Before you start composting, you’ll need to decide what sort of composter to use. This is very much determined by the size of your garden and the area you live in! If you live in an urban environment, you’ll want an enclosed composting bin because of the proximity of your neighbours.
If you do have a decent amount of backyard space, you’ll want to use either a compost tumbler or a DIY compost pile. Although the types of compost pile you have may differ, the method is essentially the same.
How to compost in 6 steps:
- Start your compost pile
Before you begin, you will have chosen your preferred compost pile. To start, you should choose an area of your garden with good access and pick a spot of earth. This makes it easy for earthworms and other garden inhabitants to help aerate the compost pile.
- Make a base of twigs and straw
Before you add anything to your compost heap, it’s a good idea to start with a base of twigs and straw. Make this layer a few inches deep to aid drainage and help with aerating the pile.
- Add your compost materials
This is without a doubt the most exciting part, the beginning of your compost pile! The best way to add your compost ingredients is in layers, try to alternate between moist and dry ingredients. Dry ingredients include straw, leaves, sawdust and wood ashes. Moist include food scraps and teabags. Make sure you spread your moist materials out, or they will clump together!
- Time for green manure
It’s time to add some manure! Manure adds nitrogen to the pile and activates it, speeding up the whole process. You should use green manure in your compost heap, such as grass clippings and clover.
- Cover it up!
You must cover up your pile! Covering it up correctly helps keep heat and moisture inside. Covering it up will also stop it from getting too wet when it rains. To cover it use wood or plastic sheeting.
- Turn it
Turning your compost is the most common action you’ll have to carry out, and probably the most important. You will need to turn your compost every few weeks, just use a pitchfork or a shovel to turn it over. By doing this you are aerating the pile, or simply adding oxygen. This also helps to mix the materials you add to your compost pile.
What can I compost?
You can compost almost anything from your kitchen, well, kitchen waste that is! A few examples are egg shells, loose leaf tea, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee filters, stale bread, old herbs and spices, pizza crusts, old preserves and cooked pasta. To add to this, you should compost leaves and grass cuttings from your garden.
A word on Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio (C:N)
To successfully compost, you need to be aware of the ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio or C:N. Microorganisms use carbon for energy and growth, nitrogen is needed for protein and reproduction. Nitrogen is known as green compost and carbon is called brown. The ideal ratio is around the 25:1 mark, this is because biological organisms require 25 times more carbon than nitrogen. If you can achieve this ratio, you’ll have a compost pile that has favourable conditions.
Home composting dog poop
It is possible to compost your dog's poop at home! But you have to be aware of a few things. You should never compost your dog's poop on your regular compost pile intended for your vegetable patch. In fact, anything you are growing that's edible - dog poop compost should not be applied to it. The reason is, the heat in home composting piles is not hot enough to kill off the parasites that can be found in dog waste.
The recommended way to compost dog poop at home is by having a dedicated dog poo composter, you can still add other things like leaves and kitchen waste to this. It will be an enclosed compost pile, ensuring that no nasty smells escape. Another way you can compost your dog's poop is through a wormery! A wormery works by allowing a colony of worms to eat the dog poop, they then excrete it back out. This is then fit to be used on your garden, but not on anything edible! Just bear in mind, you should be careful if your pooch has as recently taken their worming tablets - I'm sure you can imaging this is pretty dangerous for your worms!
The best way to compost your dog poop, whether you have a wormery or a dedicated dog poo composting bin, is by collecting the offending matter in compostable poop bags to start with. Just like ours! You can't do it using traditional plastic dog poop bags as they simply won't break down in your compost.
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