Composting is a great for any garden. There are just so many benefits that you can gleam from composting your own garden waste and some items from around the home.
Some people think that composting is complicated. Let me assure you that it is not. Think of it as a sophisticated rubbish pile that you have to sort into the certain order and occasionally stir up the ingredients. Once you have a good understanding of the ingredients, then you will be able to produce rich compost that can help you grow spectacular plants in the spring and promote good garden health. Not only that but it will provide a great habitat for some mini beasts.
What should you compost?
What to put in your compost bin
- Grass clippings
- Cardboard (shredded)
- Vegetable peelings from the kitchen
- Coffee grounds
- Wood shavings/sawdust (helpful if you have an small pet)
- Standard printer paper
What not to put in your compost bin
There is an extensive list of things that should not go in your compost bin. However, here are some common items to give you a flavour of what is bad. It’s much easier to focus on what can go in.
- Any meat products
- Dairy products
- Animal waste
- Plants that have a disease
- Weeds that have produced seeds
- Charcoal or Coal ash from a fire indoors
Now that we have understood what should go into the compost pile, there is an order and quantity requirements to make it work as it should. This is the clever bit.
Getting the balance right – Green and Brown waste
The two main ingredients that go into a compost bin a defined as brown and green waste. When you look at what is in each category, it is quite easy to see why they have these names.
When adding waste to your compost bin, you need to get the balance right, otherwise the mixture won’t be the right consistency to great that magic. Ideally, you will be looking to add 25 – 50% Green Material, with the remainder being brown material. Anything over 50% green can turn your compost rather sludgy and not so nice to use.
How to interest children in composting
It can be quite a hard concept to encourage children into composting. After all, it is just a rubbish heap. However, it is the most sophisticated rubbish heap that you will ever come across and when done correctly, the results are spectacular. It is also a great way to keep your own waste down as a household as you will be putting it back into nature to help plants grow which could ultimately end up as food on the table.
Children love it when things grow in the garden. And by explaining that the compost is the food that the plants eat to grow big and strong is a very good place to start. It provides the necessary nutrients in the soil and also encourages bio diversity in the garden.
Make your composting bin easy to access:
By making your compost bin accessible, it will ensure that children are able to use it. If you are opting to use a simple bin, then you can most likely have it on show in the garden. However, using a ‘heap’ will mean that you are probably not going to want it on show. In which case, make the area surrounding the compost pile safe for children to use.
Create a list of things to compost:
Having that all important list of things that you are able to compost is so important. Perhaps use some pictures to help identify common items around your home. One great way to do this is to buy a separate bin for your kitchen where the scraps can go. This will get everyone in the house into the habit of using it.
Enable them to use the compost:
When it is time to use the compost, encourage them to take it out of the bin. If you are using a plastic bin, there is often a hatch at the bottom where they can take the compost out. They will need some help in the first instance and it is worth checking the quality and making sure that it is has decomposed sufficiently. It’s then time to spread the magic around the garden. You really will notice a difference in the plant growth the year after.
Let them see the compost being turned:
Watching the compost being turned is incredible. If you are turning it in the winter, you often will see a load of steam being released. This is because the decomposition causes heat. Depending on the waste that you have put in, will determine the heat that is created. You might want to check that it is not too hot before allowing the children to touch it – some compost bins can get very hot indeed.
Feel the warmth:
As well as seeing the warmth of the compost bin, you can also feel it. If you have a classic plastic compost bin, simply putting you hand on the side or opening the top and feeling the heat escape is a great experience. It often quite surprises people just how warm they can get.
How long will my compost take to produce?
This is a common question that is often asked. The truth is that it depends on the environment that you have the compost bin and also what you are putting into it. If you are looking to create a speedy batch (three to four weeks) you could try hot composting. This is fairly labour intensive but good fun all the same. Check out this article on Grow Veg to find out more. There is also the traditional method that is more of a slow process but still produces great quality compost.
For further information on how to get started or further reading on the science of composting, we highly recommend this article from earth easy. It contains all you need to know and contains some helpful hints and tips on placement and quantities of content.