Compost provides are a good natural fertiliser that improves the soil structure, quality, fertility and water retention without having to resort to the use of expensive chemical fertilisers. It’s also a great way of recycling, since all vegetable and garden waste can be made into compost and then incorporated back into your soil. It cuts down on waste disposal and air pollution from otherwise burning your garden waste on a bonfire. Your compost heap will also provide a valuable home for many wild creatures on the garden.
All organic material will eventually rot down if simply placed in a heap. However, the resulting compost will be better in quality and ready to be used more quickly if it’s contained within a compost bin.
A good mix of waste matter going into your compost is important – too much of just one thing will result in the heap being either too dry or too wet and so delaying the breakdown into compost. Woody stems of plants can be used but these will rot down quicker if shredded first. An ideal mix contains grass, leaves, straw, garden waste and household vegetable waste. Even some shredded newspaper or torn up cardboard can go in but avoid incorporating non-vegetable food waste as this will attract vermin.
Your compost area should not be on a solid base but directly onto the soil to allow it to drain and to allow worms and other organisms’ access to the decomposing matter. Cover your compost heap to prevent excessive rain, although some damp with improve your compost. If it becomes too dry add some water. Your compost heap will need to be aerated – so turning the heap over every now and then is recommended.
Worms help greatly and while some will slowly get in from the bottom of the heap it helps to add some soil and with it hopefully some worms. Alternatively add any worms you find to your newly created heap as they will help turn the waste matter into fantastic compost for your garden.
Another way to put compost into your soil is to use pit beds. With this method place your organic material straight into pre-dug pits in the area of the garden where you will be growing crops in the following year.
The pits should be dug no more than a foot deep and a foot wide.
Once filled with your mixture of organic waste cover them with a good amount of soil and let nature take its course. The following year you should be able to plant into this part of your garden and reap the rewards with a crop of healthy vegetables or a bunch of prize-winning flowers.