Composting tips to help keep you green-fingered during lockdown
PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 May 2020
With many councils only just restarting green bin services and discussions continuing over opening rubbish tips, many of us are looking to composting as a way to do deal with garden waste.
Local community group Transition Woodbridge has shared its advice on why we should be looking at composting and how we can do it.
Why should I compost?
Making and using compost is good for your garden
Over time soil quality declines and, to improve the quality of your soil, it requires nutrients. Compost adds structure and fertility to your soil. Adding homemade compost is one of the best things you can do to enhance and protect the health of your soil (and your plants will thank you for it).
It’s a good alternative to peat-based composts
A lot of the compost available from retail and online stores is peat-based. Nearly 70% of all peat used is by amateur gardeners. By making your own compost you can help reduce the shrinking of this vital habitat and carbon store.
It uses up your waste
Instead of putting things in your collection bins you can utilise your food and garden waste. Composting means that you are recycling waste and turning it back into a resource.
What do I need?
To get started you can simply create a composting area in your garden, or you might want to build a compost bin from wood or old pallets. They are also easy to find if you want to buy one.
What can go in compost?
To create the best compost you will need to put the right mix of green and brown in your heap.
Green waste includes vegetables, fruit, plant prunings, and grass, they will provide nitrogen and moisture.
While brown waste includes egg boxes, cardboard, paper and leaves which are needed to provide fibre and carbon.
A mix of 50% green and 50% brown will create the ideal conditions you need. It’s a good idea to grab some cardboard and paper waste to add every time you take out a container full of vegetable peelings, to ensure you are keeping the right balance.
You need to keep air in the composting process, so don’t worry about ripping everything up. Scrunching up balls of paper or card, or putting a whole egg cartoon in, will add pockets of air.
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It’s also a good idea to stir your bin regularly but don’t worry too much if this isn’t possible.
What shouldn’t I put in my compost bin?
Don’t add perennial weeds, weeds with seed heads, or diseased plants.
It’s also not a good idea to put cooked food in because this can encourage pests (and make your compost bin smell).
Nondegradable materials, such as plastic, glass, metal, or stones are also not a good idea.
How will I know when it’s ready?
It can take anything from six to eighteen months to be ready, depending on the conditions and how often you are using your bin.
When it’s ready the compost will be a dark brown spongy consistency.
If you use your compost bin regularly you will have compost ready at the bottom of your heap, with your newly added waste on top.
Remove compost that is ready and return anything that isn’t to the heap.
A simple check on your composting heap will help you maintain the right conditions to get excellent compost:
Too wet = add brown
Too dry = add green
What about other garden waste?
You may have lots of garden waste, some of which can’t be added to the compost bin. Don’t worry if this is the case – there are still lots of ways to use this waste.
Perennial weeds that can’t go in your compost bin normally can be put in a bag, or a bucket with a lid (make sure no light can get in). This will kill the weeds off.
When they are fully dead these can be added to your compost bin without the risk of them regrowing when you spread your compost.
Leaves can be bagged up to create a leaf mulch which can be used as a soil conditioner at a later date.
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