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How to make compost

Help reduce the use of fertiliser and pesticides by making your own compost at home. Read our handy guide on how to make your own.

Reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and do your bit for climate change by making your own compost.

Making your own compost isn’t just good for the environment, it’s great for your bank account, too. You save money by producing a free high quality soil balancer and reduce the need for using nasty chemicals.

How to make compost at home

Step 1: Choose between a compost bin or pile

Compost bins are a better way of keeping your compost contained in a dedicated space and will reduce odours.

A compost pile will naturally attract flies, so a compost bin is a great option to keep an infestation to a minimum.

Step 2: Add green matter

To kickstart your compost, gather green material from your kitchen which is high in nitrogen such as coffee grounds, fruit cores, leftovers and eggshells.

Any weeds or greenery from the garden can also be green matter.

Top tip: No meat or greasy food should be put in your compost bin!

Step 3: Add brown matter

Paper, sawdust, twigs, dry leaves and newspaper are all examples of brown matter that are high in carbon.

In an ideal world, your compost bin should be a 50/50 split between nitrogen and carbon.

Step 4: Add the key ingredient – water!

To speed up the composting process it’s important to add water, which will increase the moisture level of your compost bin.

If the matter is left too dry it will take a long time to decompose. Don’t make the mistake to completely soak it –  you want it damp not dripping wet.

Step 5: Mix your compost

Turn your compost with a pitchfork once a week. Move the bottom of the pile to the top and vice versa to make sure it’s fully mixed together.

Depending on what is in your compost and the ratio, decomposition should be complete within a couple of months. It’s ready when it has cooled and is a deep brown colour.

How to build a compost bin. Image: Fruit and vegetables in a plastic bin

What are the benefits of home composting?

The less we contribute to landfill, the better. Recycling our own waste is a fantastic way of reducing the amount of rubbish we put into landfill, which generates the greenhouse gas methane.

Compost reduces the need for chemical fertilisers and is a much better option to conserve and protect the environment.

Homemade compost increases the nutrient content and overall health of the soil. It also provides plants with essential food and moisture, giving them a healthier growing environment.

How to get rid of topsoil feature image

Composting for beginners

If you’ve never embarked on composting before, it can be a little intimidating. However, if you keep in mind the 50/50 split between green and brown matter you shouldn’t go far wrong.

Start with a base layer of twigs in your compost bin to encourage air circulation and provide a good level of drainage.

A top tip is to place your compost bin in a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day to speed up the decomposition process.

What is a compost tumbler?

A compost tumbler is a piece of kit you may want to invest in if you are a composting enthusiast.

A step up from a compost bin, a compost tumbler is a closed drum that’s mounted on an axis to make it easy to rotate.

A compost bin is open to the ground whereas a compost tumbler is not open to the earth and requires manual rotation by turning the handle. Naturally, this is a better way of mixing your compost and can produce better air circulation and quicker decomposition.

What is countertop compost?

If you’re interested in producing your own compost but want to start out on a smaller scale, a countertop compost bin is a great alternative.

There are lots of countertop compost bins on the market that you can choose from, however, it’s just as easy to make your own.

A plastic takeaway container is the ideal thing to use. Just make sure it has a secure lid and poke air holes in it to help the composting material circulate.

Think carefully about where you’d like to put it. You may not want it near food preparation stations, instead, pop it next to the sink or underneath it to keep it in reaching distance but still out of the way.

If you don’t have the confidence to tackle this project yourself, you can always hire a gardening professional to help you.

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