There’s something I’m doing in my garden that is both good for the environment, good for my plants, good for the wildlife that visits my garden and ultimately good for me. What am I talking about? Compost. If you have no idea what compost is and you have a garden, you should consider going a little green and recycling some of your household waste. It doesn’t take up much room, my composting is all done in my compost corner, which is about 7′ x 5′ or 217 x 150 cm if you’re metric like me. It’s also pretty simple to setup and not expensive.
So, I hear you ask, why bother recycling household waste. Well, it’s a no-brainer really.
- You are helping the environment cutting down on waste and using less plastic bags for rubbish
- If you grow your own flowers, vegetables or anything really, you will grow more and it will be better quality
- You will attract more insects for pollination and you’ll attract earthworms which are great for the soil
- Store bought compost is expensive, so you can save money too
Those are the upsides, which may not look as though they amount to much, but simply helping a few bees to survive and using less plastic for waste has to be a huge plus if everyone did the same. Think about it.
Next question? “How do I go about composting?” That’s easy and takes very little time, nature does most of the work for you.
What you see in the picture above is two composting bins and a black box container freshly sieved compost. I have three composting bins which are plain old waste bins about 2 feet (61cm tall) and about 16 inches (41cm) across the top. When I first started I filled my first bin in a relatively short space of time and soon realised I needed another bin. I added a third simply because I broke seven ribs in an accident last November and couldn’t do any gardening, so a lot of weeds grew so I needed to get rid of them when I eventually managed to start bending over again. There is only two of us in our household, I live with my wife, so I would say a family of four would probably need three bins as well. Here’s what I did and you can find a load of videos about composting on YouTube, so take a look for alternative ideas.
Use a bin where you can seal the lid, you don’t want mice and rats eating your waste carrots!
Drill holes in the lid, you can see the size of mine in the picture. Also drill holes down the side, all the way round, about 8 rows in all should do. Drill holes in the bottom of the bin, same number as in the lid. Line the bottom of your bin with shredded (ripped up) news paper. There will be some leakage so the paper helps soak it up and will also compost down. Now start throwing your home waste into your compost bin. There, you’ve started composting. But, you will need to manage your compost bin and only throw in waste that is organic. Here’s a list of what’s good to compost.
- Vegetable peelings
- Egg shells
- Garden waste like grass or weeds, making sure you remove any roots and seed heads
- Ash from a wood burner
- Some wood shavings or sawdust
- Dead leaves
- Dead plants where the plant has dried out, leaves that are dead and brown and crispy
- Tea leaves – if you use tea-bags don’t use the bags which can contain plastic sealant unless you know plastic isn’t used
- Coffee grounds
- DO NOT USE COOKED PRODUCE OR MEAT
The dead brown leaves and stalks are also essential items to producing good quality compost. You need a good mixture of green as well as brown and dried out garden waste. I use about a third dead material to the rest being kitchen scraps and green material from the garden. Make sure you break up your waste where it’s very large, like a whole orange. It will still compost but the bigger it is the longer it takes.
Use a stout wooden stick or a garden fork and stir your compost a couple of times a week, just to make sure it’s composting evenly. You will attract flies and slugs, but you can deal with them how you will. I ignore the flies and the slugs I tend to relocate over my back wall into a large grassy field.
When the composting process is completed this is what you will end up with.
You will also have some material that will not compost and some that is taking longer. I sieved my compost into my black box and that which is taking longer goes into one of the other bins. Inevitably you will find bits of rubbish that won’t compost, like the odd plastic lid. But in three years of composting I’ve only found a handful of rubbish.
I mix my compost into soil from tubs where the plants have finished, sprinkle it onto flower beds and use as it as a growing medium for growing from seeds. One thing I was surprised at was how rich the compost is. I’ve had potato plants growing in my compost from potato peelings. So be aware it is potent stuff and any seeds that end up in your compost bin, like grass seeds, may well germinate and grow, so try not to compost seeds or seed heads.
Make sure you cover your compost bin lids with something to keep the rain out, soggy compost will simply rot and stink to high heaven. I use old metal backing trays with a brick on each so they don’t blow off.
And that is it. It may seem a lot to take in but it becomes second nature. And bear in mind it can also save you money, buying compost can be expensive. Why buy it when you can DIY it?
If you want to leave a comment then be my guest and scroll down to the bottom of the page. I’ll try and answer any questions if I can.
Copyright © Tom Kane 2020
As an expat Living in Cyprus I often look back on my first day on the island in 2008. It’s been 12 years this year since I moved from England and the journey has had it’s ups and downs. You can read the funny, the crazy and the sad times I’ve experienced in my book.