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Resources

How to make a garden compost heap

Composting is nature’s way of recycling. One of the best ways to feed your plants is to set up your own composting area.

First choose a shady spot in the garden for your compost bin, enclosure or heap. Too much sun will dry out your compost. Set up a separate bin in the kitchen for food scraps.
Your compost will need a mixture of “greens” and “browns” To make compost quickly your “recycling” factory will need food, air and water. Always wear gloves when you are working with compost!

FOOD
Greens

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Tea leaves and bags
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dead Flowers
  • Weeds from the garden
  • Blood and bone


Browns – dry materials

  • Straw
  • Dry brown seedless weeds
  • autumn leaves
  • Ash
  • Wood chips
  • Shredded newspaper (but no glossy inserts)

Do not use these materials: biscuits, bread or cakes, animal droppings especially dogs or cats, deceased plants, large branches, magazines, meat (or anything greasy) and dairy products, metal plastic or glass, weeds that have seeds or underground stems, large branches.

AIR

  • You compost needs air for rapid decomposition. If you don’t have enough air it can also produce foul smells. This is how to add air:
  • Turn the pile regularly (about once a week) by breaking it apart then piling it back up.
  • If you are using a container, punch holes in it or insert a slotted pipe into the heap.
  • Placing newspaper and twigs in the mixture lets in more air
  • Add some compost worms. Feed the worms three times a week on strips of fruit and vegetable peels. They also eat coffee grounds, egg shells and tea bags. Again do not put meat or anything greasy into the bin. It’s better to underfeed than overfeed.
  • Don’t let the mixture become too wet.
  • The compost can be made without air but this is a very slow process and produces methane a powerful greenhouse gas. Air makes the compost less smelly and it composts more quickly.

WATER

  • Your compost should be kept damp but not soggy. It should have the consistency of a wet sponge. If it gets too wet add more paper, if it gets too dry, add more water.
  • After about 3 ½ or 4 months your compost pile is a dark brown colour with an earthy smell. It should feel like a squeezed out sponge.
  • This material is a nutritionally rich fertilizer to be used to help condition your plants and soil. This is one of the best and most economical ways to feed your plants.