As the mucky season is well and truly upon us, what better time to talk about the very best kind of muck – homemade compost?
Making compost is a bit like making homemade stock if you’re a cook – it’s a state of mind. Just as a good cook never lets anything go to waste, a conscientious gardener understands the need to use every means possible to improve the soil, and compost is a super way to do that – it adds vital nutrients to help plants grow, and used as a mulch, will help retain moisture in the soil and make it harder for weed seeds to germinate.
You don’t need any fancy equipment for compost making – in a larger garden a simple timber structure made from old pallet wood works perfectly. In a smaller space, a purpose made compost bin is a better option to keep things neat. For what it’s worth, I’d recommend the timber ‘beehive’ style compost bins rather than the round plastic ones – much easier to fill up and empty. bottom. Make sure the base of your compost bin is on earth, so that bacteria from the earth can come in contact with the contents of the bin and turn it into compost. It needs to be located in as sunny a spot as possible, as it needs some heat to work, so in a small garden you need to choose its position carefully, as you’ll probably want to keep at least some of the sunny areas for yourself!
Your raw material is basically any material from the garden – deadheaded flowers, weeds, dead stems and leaves – anything you end up with after a garden tidy. Cut grass can be added as long as it’s in proportion to the other contents – add a huge heap and it won’t rot down properly. This is because you need a balance between ‘green’material, rich in nitrogen – such as leaves and cut grass, and ‘brown’ material, high in carbon – dead stems, and twigs for instance. Kitchen waste can be added as long as you never add anything cooked or any meat – this will attract rats to your compost heap. Eggshells, coffee grounds, teabags and all manner of fruit and vegetable peelings are suitable. Adding used kitchen roll and small amounts of torn up cardboard – egg boxes, for instance – ups your brown material ratio and helps to keep the balance.
Your compost is ready when it’s got a crumbly texture and an earthy smell – this can take up to a year or so depending on the size of your heap or bin. Use as a mulch or add to the soil when planting to keep it healthy. It’s the easiest kind of recycling and really does become a state of mind, so it’s well worth getting into the habit!
Anne Byrne Garden Design provides easy to follow Garden Plans that you can implement right away or in stages. Anne’s design flair and passion for plants brings a touch of magic to gardens of all sizes.
Anne Byrne Garden Design – Creative Ideas – Practical Solutions – Stunning Gardens.