The secret of how to make good compost is simply having the right position and the right materials.
Old fashioned methods work well and these would insist that you need to have the materials to be composted sitting on the ground and that they need to be layered, browns and greens, or carbon and nitrogen.
These methods will also talk about how to turn regularly to help aerate the compost, adding some water to keep it moist and also adding some blood and bone. All true however let us explain a little more.
So what should good compost look like – see the picture right, its some we made earlier (as they say)
The Basics of How to make Compost
The best way to make compost in the home garden is to ensure that you are putting carbon, nitrogen water and air into the compost. Many gardeners often forget the air and the water, or put in to much water
- Carbon comes from Autumn leaves, woody prunnings (but not to thick) and hedge clippings.
- Nitrogen comes from lawn clippings, green pruning, and vegetable scraps (uncooked).
- Water only needs to needs to be added if the compost is getting to dry, and usually not at all to closed bins.
- Turning adds air and speeds up decomposition, it also makes it more even
- Adding blood and bone can speed things up a little, but not essential
- Adding some garden lime can also assist, but not essential
It is the mixture of these two that helps make good compost. The woody or twiggy material helps promote airflow and speed up decomposition.
Composting making steps for static bins and heaps
- 10 cm of greens
- 10 cm of browns
- Moisten only when dry
- Use newspaper if you do not have enough brown material
- Use a little poultry manure if you do not have enough green material
- Add lime, blood and bone only if you really want to
- Turn if you are using a a compost heap ( if you wish to speed things up)
For many gardeners, lawn clippings and autumn leaves are two of the main materials for making compost.
Maintaining a balance between Greens and Browns in Compost
One problem is that we get lots of Autumn leaves in Autumn when we don’t have lawn clippings, and we get the bulk of the lawn clippings when we don’t have Autumn leaves. The autumn leaves can be piled up and added later, in spring, however the lawn clippings need to dealt with. Here is what we do
- Supplement the lawn clippings with newspaper, sawdust, wood shavings or cardboard in summer.
- And extra kitchen waste and green pruning’s in winter. Some poultry manure, tea bags and coffee grounds
Next we have composting methods
- the traditional compost heap
- the compost tumbler
- aerated compost bins
All of these composting methods work, but all have limitations.
- The traditional compost heap costs next to nothing but you do have to turn it. They can also attract rodents and possums.
- The compost tumblers are fine, but you do need to fill them ‘all at once’, they are sealed and vermin proof.
- The aerated compost bins work very well, however they cost the most. But then they are usually sealed and keep pests away.
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