Garden Compost

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Garden compost tips

Composting is one of the oldest forms of recycling. It is a cheap, hygienic and natural way of making a wonderful soil-enriching compost from stuff that you would otherwise throw out.

If you don’t compost this stuff, it gets trucked around the country to be buried in huge ugly holes in the ground - landfill!

What a waste of organic material, fuel, manpower and garden nutrients, not to mention the blight on the landscape that is landfill.

What’s in it for me?

You’ll save money on waste disposal costs
You’ll save money on buying compost for soil improvement, potting compost and houseplant compost
... but more important than any of those, you will help make a better world for your children and teach them how to work with nauture, not against it.

What can I compost in my yard?

Garden waste: Grass clippings, hedge clippings, dead-heads, cut-flowers, autumn leaves, moss that you rake out of the grass - basically anything that contains high levels of nitrogen.
Kitchen waste: Fruit cores and peels, vegetable peels, leftover salad, paper egg-boxes, tea-bags, coffee-grounds, corn-cobs - pretty much anything that is ‘vegetable’ in origin.
Other stuff: Shredded newsprint, corrugated cardboard

Getting started

Build or buy a composter. It’s not important which you do. If you prefer to buy one, try
Gardens Alive. They’ll even give you $20 off an order of $40 or more - just look for the ‘Composting’ link on the left-hand side of their page.
Find a good place for your home composter. It should be on bare soil or on grass. It is best to lightly dig over or loosen the grass
Put your composter in place. It can be a home-built one or you can buy a composter - it really doesn’t matter
Gather some organic waste. Start with a layer of woody material such as straw, twigs, cardboard, etc. This helps to allow good air circulation at the bottom of the pile
Add layers of green (grass clippings, salad waste, fruit peels, etc) and brown material (cardboard, twigs, newspaper) about 3 or 4 inches thick
Add a little water between each layer and if you like, a sprinkling of soil. This makes sure you have lots of bacteria and fungi throughout the stack so they can get to work quickly
Don’t worry - it will look like it is filling up really fast but it will shrink dramatically after just a few days.  And, no, it won’t smell, attract vermin or flies as long as you add material in layers.
Avoid adding thick layers of grass clippings. They do make wonderful compost but if you put too much in one layer, they will compact and rot rather than composting.  I find it’s easiest to keep a weeks waste in buckets or beside the composter to make layers when I come to mow the grass. That way, I have grass clippings and other stuff to make layers once a week

How long will it take?

If you have a good range of material and a well layered stack, it could be ready in as little as 3 or 4 months. Generally though, you should expect that the compost you make this year will be ready for use next year. 

What I like to do is have two bins beside each other. I use one until it is almost full to the top. Then I switch to the second one and let the first one mature.
By the time the second one is nearly full, the first one is ready for use and is about two thirds full of the most wonderfull, sweet-smelling, clean and wholesome compost that money could buy!

And even better, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is completely natural, that I made it myself, that it cost me nothing and that I have done something to help preserve the planet for my children and grandchildren - let me know if you can buy that anywhere!

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