Compost Tips For Beginners

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Gardening and growing your own food is an amazing skill to have, but its one thing to grow and harvest your own crops, but if you don’t also care for the soil it won’t be long before your crops dry up and life in your garden literally dry up.

Why do we need compost?

Your soil is full of tiny bacteria and microbes that feed off the decaying materials in the soil and essentially the waste product from these microbes is what your plants can feed on.

Yes you can apply food for your plants but this is a quick pick me up instead of a balanced diet for your plants. Think of it like a cup of coffee instead of 3 square meals.

To grow well your plants need these microbs and life in the soil as well as other minirals.

Compost is what’s left after natural materials decompose turning back in to soil full of nutrients that other plants can then make use of.

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Not started your vegetable garden yet???

The process happens all over the natural world but you can copy the process in your own garden and produce wonderful nutrient rich soil to help the plants you want to grow be at their best.

You can make your own compost from left over materials like kitchen waste, grass clippings, twiggy branches, and wood chips etc

Simply layer up your materials in a chosen area or container and keep it moist.

As it starts to decompose mix things up regularly to keep air circulating and before long you’ll have black crumbly soil to keep your plants at their best.

To produce the best compost in the quickest time there is a few things you need to know.

Firstly, compost ingredients are divided into 2 groups. 

Green waste

 This includes vegetable peelings, and grass clippings which are full of liquid, are high in nutrients like nitrogen. 

Brown waste

This group includes twiggy branches, tea bags, paper and cardboard. Items that are full of carbon. 

How do you know what to compost?

Here’s a list of things you can compost to start you off.

You CAN Compost

  • Fruit including seeds and peels. Be careful of too much onion and citrus peelings and it’s not so great for your compost.
  • Vegetables peelings
  • Eggshells
  • Wood chips
  • Old soil from flower pots
  • Green leaves and hedge trimmings
  • Grass clippings and weed seedlings.
  • Wood ash
  • Straw & hay.
  • Old pet bedding is useful here especially if it contains chicken poop, rabbit or horse etc.
  • Coffee grinds and filters
  • Used tea bags
  • Shredded newspapers and papers with no color. Not glossy magazines and wrapping paper. 
  • Hair and pet hair.
  • Cotton balls
  • Tissues and kitchen roll (but not if its covered in cleaning products) as well as paper napkins and paper towels, including kitchen and toilet roll tubes and egg boxes.
  • And urine if your so inclined.

DON’T Compost!

  • Cooked fruit and vegetables
  • Bread
  • Bones
  • Weed seed and perenial roots
  • Colored or glossy paper
  • Fish and seafood
  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Human or dog waste
  • Cat litter
  • Plastic/metals/foils

How to start a compost heap

To start your compost heap/bin, add a thin layer of brown materials to the base of your area or container.

This should be directly on the ground so soil life and worms can get into the compost and help break everything down. 

Now just layer the materials in thin layers are you gather them. Some people prefer to bag up the materials as they gather them until they have enough to complete their heap in one go.

Remember either way the heap must be kept damp to work effectively.

For the quickest and best compost you need to mix the heap up every few weeks to help put air in the process. 

The bacteria and microbes that breaks down the compost needs oxygen. So mixing your compost heap will help speed up the process.

The right container for your compost.

A compost heap is something you will use regularly and constant be topping it up and mixing it around so choose a site that has easy access.

At our allotments where space is not an issue, we built out own compost heap straight on the ground and surrounded it on the back and sides with pallets. We have 2 side by side so we can add lots of air as we toss the compost from one to the other. 

The empty one then is re-started with fresh clippings and the mixed one is left until it’s ready to use on the plot.

In the garden however, space is a premium and I don’t really want my neighbours or us having to look at or smell a nasty pile of waste so we have 2 smaller bins like this tucked in a corner.

They don’t heat up as much as the large pile does, so it does take a little longer for this compost to be ready but they produce plenty of compost for our garden and a few pots and are discret enough.

So, why not recycle some of your waste and reap the benefits of what you so. Composting doesn’t require a lot of effort but the benefits to your garden are huge!

  • So, save your scraps
  • Layer them up
  • Keep them cosy and damp and mix regularly


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