Learning how to make your own compost at home is one of the most beneficial things you can do as a gardener. Making compost is a simple process but there are ways to make it better than just throwing any old thing into a bin and waiting. I have compiled a series of steps to make your compost amazing and straightforward.
What is composting
Composting is when you add organic materials into a heap and it will decompose, to provide you with a highly nutritious fertilizer that will help your plants grow and thrive.
What type of materials can I put into my compost bin?
You can add just about anything organic to a compost bin but the following items will give you the best results:
Vegetable peelings – Vegetable peels will degrade quite quickly and are loaded with nutrients. The thinner the slices of peeling the quicker they will decompose. Vegetable peelings are high in P and K and a great addition to any compost.
Fruit – fruit makes a great addition to a compost bin. It adds much needed fibre and water to the mix and it decomposes quickly also
Grass clippings and leaves – amazingly people don’t usually put grass clippings or leaves into a compost bin. These are also fast to decompose and will add moisture and nitrogen to your compost. Branches may take a little longer but will still make good compost.
Cardboard egg boxes and paper – although these items are not very high in N P K, they are good to add fiber to the compost to allow air and nutrients to mix.
Eggshells – eggshells provide useful minerals not usually found in many plants.
Teabags and coffee grounds – these are also good for composting. Coffee grounds will add nitrogen and both will add fiber and minerals to your final compost. Coffee liquid is acidic and so it will lower the ph of your soil.
What should I not put into my compost heap?
You should never add meat or dairy products to a compost heap as they can lead to unwanted smells and pests. Glass or plastics should never be added to a compost heap as they will not decompose. Dog poo or children’s nappies should never be added to a compost bin either.
What type of compost bin should I use
You can choose to either make your own static compost heap using pallets of wood found lying around. You can use a sealed upright compost bin or you can use a rotating compost bin.
How to make your own compost at home
Learning how to make your own compost at home could not be simpler – I have put it into point form to make it easier to remember.
- Begin with a clean hard base not prone to flooding to set your compost bin on.
- Ensure the composter is clean to begin – clear out any mud as this will affect the process.
- Place composting items into the composter.
- If you have the option of closing a lid then close the lid. This will keep the heat in and speed up the decomposing process.
- If you have a rotating composter you should spin it around three or four times after adding new composting items.
- When you have more items for composting simply place them into the composter and let nature take its course.
- After two to three months the items you placed into the composter should be fully decomposed and ready to use.
- To use the compost you can mix it with existing soil or use it as it is in flowerpots or seed trays.
Static compost heap.
This is when you make up three or four sides from pallets or pieces of wood and you place your items for composting into the top of it.
- Pros – this type of system are that it is simple to make and it is very low cost.
- Cons – this type it that it can be unsightly looking, it can be smelly and as it is not sealed it will take longer for the items to decompose.
Sealed upright compost bin
This static upright type of compost bin is the most popular. You simply buy it and place it wherever you want. You then lift the lid and place composting items into the bin and close the lid. Some models have a door on the bottom to take the finished compost out of the bottom.
- Pros – No smell, fast decomposing, tidy looking.
- Cons – some people my not like plastic versions.
Rotating compost bin
The rotating type compost bin is like a bin on its side on a stand. There is a hinged door into which you place your composting items. then you close the door and spin the composter round to mix all the compost items with the old composted items. This speeds up the decomposition of the new items.
- Pros – fastest decomposing time of all three versions due to the mixing effect. Sealed unit – no smell.
- Cons – you really need to mix the compost as a batch and leave it. Otherwise, you will have undecomposed items mixed through your compost. Price – rotating compost bins are slightly more expensive than static and sealed versions.
Kitchen undercounter compost bin
These small under counter kitchen compost bins are very useful to keep inside your home. They are small enough to carry easily and they save you endless trips to the outdoor composter on a daily basis.
- Pros- small, lightweight, convenient, and easy to carry around. Not intended for long-term storage so smell is not a worry.
- Cons- some may not have the space for another bin under their counter.
Where should I place my compost bin?
The best place to put your compost bin is in the driest part of you garden. This is because you will be walking to it on a regular basis with all your composting items. If you place it in a wet area it will soon turn into a mud bath.
Most people don’t really feel like having their compost bin as a showpiece, so if you have a paved area just off to the side from the garden that will be best. Composters don’t need sunlight so a shaded area where you don’t grow things will be fine.
There should be a run off for any water which may drip out of the bin so it doesn’t collect in a mess at your feet.
How do I know when my compost will be ready?
It will take 2 to 3 months for your compost to be ready. You will know it is ready as it will be dark brown/black in color. if you can still make out what the items were that you put into it then it is not ready. Fully decomposed compost will look like soil or wet compost.
Which type of composter would I use
I would recommend using two small sealed upright compost bins. This means you can fill one up then close it for two months while you fill the other one. This will mean you can use the contents of one compost bin while you are filling the other and so on.
Many people make the mistake of buying too large a compost bin. The problem with this is that it usually takes much to long to fill it. This means you don’t get to use your compost quickly enough and you lose heart in the process of composting.