Homemade compost is very valuable for your garden since it adds nutrients to the soil and restores its vitality. Many people prefer to purchase their compost since they believe it’ll smell odd, that it’ll make a mess or that it’s too complicated to make on their own. Of course this is true if you do it the wrong way. However, doing it the right way is quite simple, so in this article we’re going to show you how to compost at home!
Benefits of Composting
There are heaps of benefits that come with making your own compost at home. It’s a great way to keep your garden healthy and thriving. Let’s check them out!
- It’s free – Composting is completely free and you’ll actually end up saving money that you would otherwise spend on storebought fertilizers.
- It’s easy to make – it’s easier than you think and anyone can do it!
- You’re doing your bit for the planet – Maybe you didn’t realize it before, but composting can use up to 30% of your household waste that would normally end up in landfill. When it does become landfill, it doesn’t get the air that it needs to decompose and instead it creates harmful gases, ruining our environment. By making your own compost, you’re actually helping to save the planet.
- Reduces landfill – by composting at home, you reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill which means landfills will last longer without quickly filling up.
- It’s great for your garden – if done right, you’ll be providing your garden with fertilizer that’s going to help your plants grow well.
What Materials to Use
Some people think that composting means putting in anything that’ll decay but this isn’t the case. What kind of waste you put in the compost depends to some extent on the type of composter you’ve got, but there are also some rules that are important to know.
In order to have a healthy pile of compost, you need to have waste that’s rich in carbon. These can be:
- Pieces of wood
- Saw dust
- Bark dust
- Brown paper bags
- Egg shells
- Peat moss
- Wood ash
- Coffee grounds
These contain carbon and will make your compost light and fluffy. If your compost pile is going to be healthy, it should have a lot more carbon than nitrogen. Nitrogen-rich waste includes:
- Kitchen waste
- Green leaves
- Food scraps
Be careful about balancing the amounts of carbon and nitrogen in your compost. It’s always best to use at least 1/3 green materials and 2/3 brown materials or you’ll end up with unhealthy compost that smells bad.
What NOT to Use
- If you haven’t got a composter that’s made for meat, fish or bones, don’t put them in. That’s how you get all kinds of pests.
- Don’t compost ill plants or perennial weeds since you might spread the disease or the weed seeds to the rest of your garden when you use the compost.
- Avoid putting in pet manure if you’re planning to use your compost on vegetable or fruit plants.
- Don’t include bana peels, orange rinds or peach peels – these can contain the residues of pesticides.
- Remember not to put in sawdust that has any oil residues like the oil from machines or chains.
- Don’t add garlic, onions or citrus peels since they can chase away earthworms which your compost pile needs!
How to Make Your Own Compost
Now that we’ve got all that covered, let’s get down to it!
Step 1: Collect your composting materials
Before you start, collect enough composting materials so that you’ll have a pile that’s around 3 feet high. Make sure you have a clean, bare patch of land to start your compost pile on. This will make it easy for worms and other organisms to work through the pile, aerating it.
Step 2: Lay down some twigs or straw.
This should be at least a couple of inches deep so that your compost pile will be well aerated and it will also have good drainage.
Step 3: Start putting down your materials.
Do this in layers, alternating the dry and moist materials. Dry materials are: leaves, straw, wood ashes, sawdust pellets and dry grass. Wet material include teabags or food scraps.
Step 4: Add some manure (any source of nitrogen will do)
You can add buckwheat, grass clippings or any other source of nitrogen which will activate your compost pile and speed up the process.
Step 5: Water it regularly.
Keep your compost slightly moist at all times. Water it regularly, except during the rainy season when it’ll be getting all the water it needs. However, balance it out and don’t water it too much or the microorganisms in the pile will drown and your compost will rot. Composting isn’t rotting, so don’t let it rot!
Step 6: Cover it up.
Cover up your compost pile with an old carpet, a plastic sheet or even wood. this helps it to retain the heat and moisture which are essential for healthy compost.
Step 7: Turn your pile.
It’s important to turn your compost with a shovel or a pitchfork every couple of weeks for aeration. Oxygen is important for composting and your pile will get this when you turn it. When adding new materials to your pile, don’t add them in layers but mix them in instead. Mixing is essential for good results and faster composting. If you’d prefer to buy a compost bin rather than making your own pile on the ground, you can always go for it. Or you can try making your own bin.
Step 8: Use your compost!
You’ll know your compost is ready when it doesn’t give off heat and is brown, dry and crumbly. Once it’s come to this state, you can feed your garden with it! You can also use your finished compost to make compost tea which is made by steeping it in water for some days and then straining it to get the liquid.
If you’re a beginner the idea of managing your own compost pile can be quite intimidating but don’t worry. It just takes a little patience and the result is well worth it. We hope you found our article useful and good luck with your composting!