Spring is in the air, and it's time to start thinking about preparing the garden for the growing season ahead. You can give your plants the best start by providing them with some home-made compost.
Making your own compost is an easy and eco-friendly way to dispose of food and garden scraps, while also providing nutrients to help you plants to thrive. While the compost will take some months to mature, spring is an excellent time to start this process. Here a few steps to get you started.
1. Choose a location for your compost heap (or bin ): Pick a spot that is level and well drained, and away from direct sunlight. A shady area is best, but avoid areas that are too shady or damp.
2. Gather materials: Composting requires a mix of materials classified as "browns" and "greens". Browns, such as dried leaves, pine needles, and branches, provide carbon. Greens, like grass clippings and vegetable waste, provide nitrogen.
3. Layer your waste: Begin by laying down a layer of browns, about six inches thick. This will create a base for your compost heap and help with drainage. Next, add a layer of greens. Continue alternating layers until your compost heap is about three to four feet tall. For best results, aim for a 50/50 mix of browns and greens.
4. Keep the compost moist: As you add layers to the compost, water it as required to keep the materials moist. This will help with the fermentation process. However, try not to let the compost become waterlogged.
5. Turn the compost: Turn the compost regularly - about every two weeks - with a garden fork. This will introduce air into the heap for the bacteria that are breaking down the waste, and ensure that all materials are breaking down evenly.
6. Keep an eye on the temperature: Compost should feel slightly warm as the decomposition process produces heat. If it feels cold, add more greens or water to help the process along.
If you manage your compost carefully by following the steps above, it will be providing nutrient-rich soil to add to beds and borders within four to six months.