How to Make Your Own Compost
Learn how to make your own compost, and you free yourself from lugging home heavy bags of soil, often from endangered peat bogs. Making your own compost is watching nature in action. Turn leftover food into beautiful black fertile soil, to grow your own food and flowers. All you need is a good compost bin
All Green Compost Caddies (Dorset) are ideal to keep in the kitchen, just transport food to the garden, when you’re passing. They come in various pretty designs, with filtered lids to reduce odours, and hidden rings to hold compostable liners inside. Handmade from English terracotta clay, the rustic glaze is made by dipping in two glazes, which melt and react in the kiln, for a unique surface finish. One spare filter is included.
Don’t use ‘Green Cone’ composters as they ‘cook’ garden creatures). And leave wormeries to experts, as some die when transferring to soil (many die if sent through the post).
Although compost is a great way to recycle garden waste, keep compost away from pets (they like the smell but it contains mould and toxins). Ensure your compost bin is securely covered and supervise, when adding items to your compost bin. Also do not use cocoa mulch, pine or rubber mulch near pets.
You can buy good compost bins from Even Greener (made from recycled plastic, with base plates to deter unwelcome creatures). It also offers large sizes and discounts with some councils. Or for the kitchen,
How to Make Compost
Just add roughly the same amount of greens and browns (too many greens will make compost slimy, and too many browns will make it not break down and attract unwelcome visitors like mice. Site the bin near footfall, as mice are shy. How to Make & Use Compost is an updated edition of a classic, showing how to create the right mix for composting and how to safely compost food. You’ll learn of different compost systems and how to make liquid feeds and potting compost and also on community composting. Includes an A to Z guide.
- Grass cuttings (for lots, use a tumbling composter)
- Fruit & Vegetable Peelings (remove plastic stickers)
- Apple cores & citrus skins
- Used tea leaves or teabags (no nylon string)
- Used coffee grounds & filter papers
- Dead flowers & houseplants (no weedkiller)
- Nettles & ‘healthy organic weeds’
- Shredded paper & cereal boxes
- Feathers found in the garden
- Egg boxes & crushed egg shells
- Corn cobs & stalks
- Used toilet & kitchen roll tubes
- Clean tissues (no kitchen fat, butter etc)
- Natural string or raffia
- Dry leaves, hay, straw, small twigs
- Sawdust (not chemically-treated)
- A few pine cones (not many)
Things Not to Compost
- Anything not biodegradable (nylon string etc)
- Animal foods (meat, fish, dairy, eggs)
- Glossy magazines (due to chemicals)
- Dog/cat poop & cat litter
- Plants treated with chemicals
- Diseased plants
- Coal or charcoal ash
- Fat, lard, oil, grease
- Rhubarb leaves & black walnut tree leaves (these contain toxins that could harm insects: just bin them and they will break down naturally)
- Compost City is a nice book by a former New York fashion journalist who is now the ‘composting queen’. Rebecca shows how to make compost in any size space, with little effort, no smelly mess or creepy crawlies. Ideal if you compost one tea bag, or whole honking barrelfuls of scraps at a time.
- If you have a lot of trees in your garden, use a jute leaf sack to collect fallen leaves in autumn. The bag and leaves rot over winter, to produce leaf mould.
- Compost Teas for the Organic Grower is by permaculture orchardist Eric Fisher who offers an in-depth history on the soil needed to grow healthy compost teas. You can use plants to make the teas and this encourages beneficial insects for healthy ecosystems.
- Brighton Community Compost Centre collects garden waste from local people, and sells the beautiful compost back to residents, at less cost than the DIY store. It’s a good idea for anyone to do.
- Another method is to use a Kobashi Bin that ferments food with a bran/molasses mix (use one while the other is fermenting). You can then drain off the liquid as plant feed. Ensure this is fully fermented before use, to avoid pets or wildlife digging up bones). Read Bokashi Composting.
- Never use peat as compost. This is from endangered bogs that are home to native wildlife. Removing it also is one of the things that is causing our high flooding incidences (along with grouse shooting that flattens the land to grow heather). Go peat-free.
Once ready, add compost to your plants (leave a little gap around soft stems). Know toxic plants to avoid near pets and use humane safe slug/snail deterrents & no-dig garden methods. See safer alternatives to netting for wildlife, if used. Many plants (inc. yew & oak trees) are toxic to equines.