Today we have teamed up with Angela from Crafting Her Blooms to bring you a wonderful piece all about how to start composting in your back garden – thanks Angela! Angela is a keen learner gardener, sharing what she learns with everyone at Crafting Her Blooms. From climate-friendly outdoor gardening to growing your own foods and even indoor gardening, learn how to make your garden gorgeous and practical.
Compost is the rich black soil that we put into pots to grow plants of all kinds. It’s better for your garden than regular dirt because it has more nutrients and, you’ll be able to save a lot of money by not having to buy fertilizer every season!
But there is another, cost-effective way to get a supply of compost. It takes a little while to set up but once you have it running then you will have an ongoing source of quality fertilizer and cut down on other waste in the process!
What is composting?
Composting, huh? It’s all about taking your kitchen scraps and letting them decompose naturally to create nutrient-rich soil for plants. “It is at the heart of eco-friendly gardening!” And while it may be slower than what we can do in nature sometimes a little help from us makes things happen more quickly!
Organic waste that was once seen as a problem can now be considered an asset. The compost created from organic material is rich in nutrients, which boosts plants and improves soil moisture levels. It also reduces the amount of household rubbish going to landfill by 30%. Composting turns what could have been harmful methane gas into humus, or nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants!
What goes into a compost bin?
The trash you throw in the compost bin is not just any old garbage. As much as 30% of household waste could go into a compost bin, but it’s worth studying what that 30% is because it isn’t just your average leftovers from last night’s dinner or anything like that!
The important thing when making sure everything goes well with the carbon-nitrogen ratio and maintaining a brown-green ratio (known as C:N) to make good quality soil for gardening purposes; otherwise, all our hard work will be wasted on bad dirt–and we’re too cool for boring earthworms anyway!
- Carbon-rich – branches, stems, dried leaves, bits of wood, bark and sawdust, shredded brown paper, eggshells, straw, peat moss and wood ash, paper egg cartons, newspaper, shredded junk mail
- Nitrogen-rich – (also known as protein-rich) manure, food scraps, green lawn clippings, kitchen waste and green leaves, coffee filters and grounds, bread products, vegetable and fruit scraps, flat beer (not that you see much of that around here!)
The math to make sure your compost is ready for the garden can be tricky. Too much nitrogen and you have a smelly pile of rotten food – too little carbon, and it will take weeks or months longer than necessary before turning into rich soil that nourishes plants.
The key ratio starts with one-third green (nitrogen) mixed in two-thirds brown materials like leaves, dry grass clippings from lawns or wood chips leftover from construction projects – this lets air flow through which feeds organisms breaking down waste creating compost quicker!
What doesn’t go into a compost bin?
What should you not put in your compost bin? There are some things that just don’t work. Examples include:
- Bones and meat leftovers
- Fats and oils from cooking
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, etc.
- Pet waste of cats or dogs
4 steps to start a composting system
Making compost is a breeze! Once you have chosen your system, it’s time to get started. You will follow four basic steps: layering the brown material on the bottom of the bin then adding 2-3 inches of green matter.
Add water until moist but not soggy and repeat this step one more time with turning every few days or so for faster results. Turning breaks down waste into nutritious compost in no time at all!
The compost should be a loamy consistency with an earthy smell. It can take anywhere from two months to one year to get the consistent supply, but that just means you’re getting more for your buck!
Common composting issues
As with everything, sometimes composting systems don’t work. There are a few common reasons this might be and often you can solve them by identifying the problem. Three common examples are:
- A smelly compost pile can be a sign that you are not turning it enough. If your mixture is too wet, add some brown materials to help absorb the water and turn regularly for better aeration of the ingredients which will make less odour in this final product.
- Don’t let your compost pile get too dry. A lack of moisture can cause the decomposition process to stop entirely, so make sure you add more green waste and some water on occasion if need be.
- Compost is slimy. This means it’s too wet so stop watering, add more brown material and you guessed it – turn more!
Start composting today
Composting is good for the environment, cuts down waste going to landfill and means you get a supply of high-quality compost for your garden. Anyone can start a compost bin with a few basics bits of knowledge about what to add and what not to add.
We’ve compiled some information on the best way to start up your own composting system below- it only takes five minutes! If you want more tips check out this article!