Composting the garden is something that all gardeners do at some stage. however, making your own compost is something that many people steer clear of. Not because it is difficult or hard to do, but more that it takes patience and a little bit of a recipe. Composting is such a key part of gardening. It is so cool, and so important to return back to the garden, what has come from the garden. Its kinda like the circle of gardening life! If you need any more convincing about why you should compost then think about things like you’re recycling, you’re putting back into the earth what your plants have eaten up (nutrients), its free (once you have a container), it is rewarding and the thing that makes me so convinced composting is a good idea, is that you know exactly what is going into your garden! You decide what chemicals are going into your food, and I like to choose no chemicals! So I see composting as a win-win for all parties involved (me, the garden and my family).
|Composting the garden is so important! Adding nutrients back into the soil is essential!
So how do you compost?! Well you have probably all seen the classic composting bins. The big, black plastic things? I have one of those! I didn’t buy it, but it was just left at our property and had been used as a rubbish bin. Yummy. Not! So I converted this back into a compost bin. You can go out and buy one of these bins to make your compost in, or you can make your own compost bin, simply by creating four waist height walls to make a little box. This can be made out of recycled wood, corrugated iron, or anything else that you can think of that will make your very own compost bin. Just make sure that you will be able to manage the compost, as you will be turning it. Make sure that your compost bin is on bare earth, or straight on soil, as this way, the compost ingredients will be able to break down.
|My compost bin!
Now you know what you can compost in, you need to know exactly what you can and CAN’T compost. As often this is what trips some people up.
There are two essential ingredients to compost and you want to balance these 50/50. Green ingredients and brown ingredients. Or nitrogen and carbon. Or kitchen or garden ingredients. Simple? Still kinda confusing huh?
But I’ll make it easier to understand, as once you know, its so easy!
Brown ingredients, or kitchen ingredients include things like:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Egg shells
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags
- Egg cartons
- Shredded toilet paper rolls or cardboard that does not have any ink or dye in them
You can collect these “ingredients” in a bucket with a lid that you keep in your kitchen, until the the bucket is full. The lid is super important as this helps stop the stink.
|Green ingredients, or garden ingredients!
The second part of composting is,
Green ingredients, or garden ingredients and this includes things such as:
- Lawn clippings
- Weeds that haven’t flowered
- Any plants that have been thinned out when sown in groups
- Dead leaves
- Wood chips and saw dust from untreated timber
- Pruned leaves
Other things that can be added, but aren’t essential are:
- Manure (cow, horse, sheep, chicken)
- Garden lime (limestone)
- Drier lint (natural fibres preferably)
But don’t include:
- Dog or cat waste (as there can be worms)
These will attract rats or other nasty things to your compost due to the smell, or won’t break down as quickly as the other ingredients.
Unfortunately, composting isn’t as simple as chucking everything in a bin and hoping it’ll decompose. There are a few tricks that are super easy to learn though, that will ensure your compost works well!
So here are my simple steps to creating your compost:
1. Ensure your compost bin is in the place that you want it to be (a sunny spot, but away from a living area because it may smell a little)
2. If you have any sticks or straw, lay this down first, as it will help with air circulation and drainage.
3. Try to alternate layers of green and brown, or kitchen and garden. As this will help with moisture control. However, if you aren’t adding enough to create a “layer”, just make sure that you are adding roughly 50/50 of each type of ingredient at each time.
4. Keep the compost moist. Rain will help to do this, but if it doesn’t rain, you may want to give it a bit of water. Just keep an eye on the moisture content as you don’t want it to get dry.
5. Keep your compost covered. This will help to keep the moisture in, and prevent it from getting too wet. If you have a compost bin like I do, the lid is perfect, however if you have made your own compost bin, using a sheet of roofing iron, or a tarpaulin, or even old carpet would work!
6. The final important tip is turn your compost! This really helps to encourage the compost to break down as it mixes everything together and exposes oxygen to the compost. And oxygen is super important in helping the compost to break down. This only needs to be done every week, but you can turn it more if you would like. Its such a good work out! And sometimes I get my hubby to do it as my arms get too tired! Hehe (:
|Turn the compost once a week to expose the ingredients to oxygen
In six to eight weeks you should have a beautiful compost that can be added back into the garden! You might find worms in your compost and this is a good thing! It shows that your compost is nutritious!
Just give composting a go! Please! Once you start you will find it so simple and easy to do! If you have any questions just ask away (: