Compost is a dark nutrient rich material that boosts soil productivity. It helps create healthy and abundant gardens. Compost is made by mixing ordinary food and garden waste with a little water and plenty of sunlight and air. When compost is working well it is full of soil life – like worms, fungus, larvae, mites and centipedes. Good compost smells earthy, but not stinky. It can feel warm, damp and crumbly but not slimy.
- Choose a sunny spot
- Place directly on the earth so soil life can enter
- Layer twigs at the base for air to flow
Greens and browns
Organic waste can be split up into two separate groups.
Organic waste that is full of nitrogen. It is usually soft, fresh and moist. Because of the nitrogen “Greens” rots and putrefies very quickly causing bad smells. Good examples of “Greens” are
- Food waste
- Fresh green lawn clippings
Organic waste that is mainly carbon. It is dry brown and brittle. Because Browns are relatively free of nitrogen, they can take a very long time to breakdown.
Good examples of “Browns” are
- Fallen autumn leaves,
- Paper and card board
- Dry “browned-off” lawn clippings
To make compost we need to combine our Greens and Browns in layers. A bit like a sandwich
1. A proper balance is of 30% green to 70% brown
2. Start the sandwich with a base layer if ‘browns’
3. Next evenly spread a green layer, this is called the sandwich filling
4. Ensure the green layer is the same thickness as the brown base layer
5. Mix the two layers together to spread decomposition if desired
6. Cap with an equal brown layer, this is the sandwich lid, and helps to reduce odours and flies
Feeding your compost
Keep feeding your compost in layers like this but remember
- Compost should be moist like a sponge. So add water to dry materials
- Cover to trap moisture
- Make sure there is plenty of air flow around and within the heap.
- Compost is ready to harvest when it becomes a sweet, dark, crumbly material and you cannot distinguish the original materials in it.
- Normally takes at least 3-6 months
- Harvest the bottom 1/3 of composted materials by slipping the bin off, place it in another part of your garden. With a garden fork take the top 2/3 of semi composted material and place back in the bin.
- This will leave a pile of good quality compost to spread on your garden.
- Stir the top layers of your compost regularly with a fork but do not mix the composted material at the base with the fresh waste at the top
- Compost will be found at the bottom of the pile after around 6/8 months
- At all times your compost heaps should be moist like a sponge
- Bokashi solids are a great ‘green’ layer to add to your compost bin
Cold Compost Quiz questions and answers
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