Regardless of how much space you’ve got available to grow plants you’ve probably noticed quite quickly how much compost you go through.
In our medium sized garden it’s not unusual for me to get through a whopping 300 litres of the stuff via my raised beds or potting up my chillies in a single year. That can start to get pretty expensive.
However not all compost is created equal. Some has peat in it (which I won’t discuss in this particular post), some has growing formulas added and some, well some are just made up of veg peelings, grass cuttings, fallen leaves and various other materials. It’s called home made compost and it’s the best you can get.
If you haven’t had a go at making your own compost, don’t be shy. Here are good reasons to give it a try.
Five reasons to Make Your Own Compost:
- It’s easy. Yup, it really is. Below I’ll show you how.
- It saves you money. Rather than spending huge amounts on building up the good nutrients in your soil, compost will be able to do this for you, every single yr.
- It’s ecological. Not only does it cut down on your household waste but it then stops all that rubbish ending up in landfill.
- It’s great for your plants. You can make the perfect compost. You have complete control over what the compost is made up of – so if you want it for acid loving plants you add more bark chippings but if you want it for vegetables then you add more peelings from your Sunday dinner.
- You’ll have compost for your gardening needs all year round. If you’ve forgotten to buy that bad of compost from the garden centre you need worry no more, you have a resource just sitting there making you compost while you wait.
So now you’ve got all the reasons you ever need to give home composting a go, how do you go about it?
Making Compost – the easy way
First of all decide where your composter will be placed. Will it be indoors for worm composting, (otherwise known as vermicomposting), or outside behind the shed? Wherever it ends up two things need to be considered:
- Can you access it all year via a path (without getting your slippers all dirty)?
- Is it easy to empty. Is there space to get the compost away from the bin without spilling it everywhere first?
- If outside, will the compost get warm? The warmer the spot the better.
Then decide on the composting bin. Plastic, home made (pallets and chicken wire), all the way to galvanised steel. The choice is immense but remember to choose something for your needs, and the space you have available for it. Check with your local council re. compost bins – they very often sell them at discounted prices and sometimes even given them away if they have a recycling campaign on.
Start the composter off by adding a couple of inches of soil, any soil (as long as it’s not previously been contaminated).
Then just start adding everything else, which is either classed as wet or dry materials, as and when they become available to you.
- All veg and fruit/peelings (wet)
- Shredded paper (dry)
- Grass cuttings (wet)
- Cardboard (dry)
- Dust from your hoover (dry)
- Dead flower heads (wet)
- Egg shells (dry)
- Tea bags (wet)
- Fallen leaves (wet/dry)
DO NOT ADD
- Meat or anything from an animal or fish
- Dog/cat poop
Be careful not to over do anyone wet/dry material but don’t worry if you do, just add more of the other next time. A good compost mix will never smell bad and shouldn’t give you a face full of flies when you take the lid off (although the flies are aiding the decomposition process so don’t be alarmed!)
Water the compost and turn it over with a fork. The more time you can spend doing this the quicker the composting process will happen but if you leave it the compost will still appear regardless.
Four to six months later you’ll open your composter to find the most delectable sight sat there at the bottom of the pile – compost. Fine, manageable, dark compost, full of good nutrients, ready to be added to your garden. It really is rather impressive to see and once you start you’ll be hard pressed to stop because it’s that good to use.
What home compost is not:
Unfortunately home compost is not great for the finer areas of gardening such as propagation, layering, sowing and potting up plants.
For this you need slightly more refined soil. Of course there are 100’s of different types of composts to choose from and it can all get rather confusing. However I have recently come across Westland’s website who detail their various composts, really well. I have found this rather helpful for knowing what to buy when, and for what area of planting, to make sure you get the best out of anything and everything you sow and grow.
They also have some further information on making compost at home
So there you have it – great reasons for making your own compost and an easy way to get started.
Let me know what you think of this post. If you’ve got any compost stories please share below 🙂
Lovely post Sophie 1) if you sieve your compost through a fine sieve you can use it for sowing if you want as I do my self
Great tip Linda, thank you very much for that.
Another excellent article Sophie 🙂
Thank you Ian.
Very good post Sophie, I made my own compost for 22 years but I have no composter. I’am going to buy one and I would like to find one like yours. Plants, bushes, flowers love this compost. and my artichyoke which had plenty of it, looks wonderful with more than 20 artichokes..
have a nice week Sophie
Hope you manage to get one, they really are useful to have. Have a great weekend 🙂
I use my home made compost for bedding in the squash/pumpkin plants and for earthing up the potatoes., I also layered it with topsoil and chicken manure pellets/fish blood and bone when I needed to fill the two enormous half barrel planters.
One of my bins has a rather large ants nest in it at the moment though, so I may have to add some water and make them a tad uncomfortable 🙂
Mind you we still go through and eye watering amount of bought compost during the season.
Oh I know what you mean re. bought compost. There is never enough, especially with raised beds. I like the idea of using the home made compost for earthing up potatoes – never thought of that!
I like the looks of your composter. So tidy. I have so many leaves in the fall that the compost here is a big undertaking (and no grass clippings to layer in since I eliminated the grass lawn). I have 5 square sectional wire bins that I brought here from my old house, plus 2 home-made ones that are fencing wire joined in a circle. Here’s my current challenge: yellow jackets moved in. Yes, I found out the hard way.
Blimey, you certainly are a big composting fan which is great to hear. Leaves are great for making compost with – one of the best resources available. In fact I know of people who actively go around scooping up leaves from parks in the autumn months. 😉
I thought everything that could possibly be composted was going onto the heap here – but I’ve been missing out on the dust from the hoover… thanks for the tip!
Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. It takes me more interesting dealing with dirt exchange. Also, you can find more interesting facts here http://www.dirtexchange.net/.
Hi Nicole, its my pleasure and like you, something I feel we can all do, not just some. It’s easy enough and saves you money so what’s not to like really?! I shall check out your link. Thanks for stopping by.
There’s another great thing called Compost Tea. Have you heard of that?? You can watch it here: http://m.youtube.com/?reload=7&rdm=u7ywlj1#/watch?v=Uj4FL0u1wvg
There are so many recipes how to make it, but it works wonders!
S & H
Thanks for that – ‘ll be sure to check it out 🙂
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