How To: Make Compost at Home

Making compost at home is an environmentally friendly way to create nutrient-rich soil for your plants utilising kitchen and garden waste. Although many councils offer garden or food waste collection, doing it at home reduces environmental costs and benefits your garden.

How To: Make Compost at Home

How to make compost

Composting can be done all year round with materials from the kitchen and garden, however, late summer to early winter is the best time to make your compost. 

Composting can be done either in a compost bin or on an earth base, for example in a cordoned-off area at the bottom of your garden. Compost bins that are less than 1 cubic metre in size are less effective than larger ones as they need a good supply of air to work well. 

It’s important that your compost bin or compost heap isn’t subjected to extreme changes in temperature or moisture, as the bacteria and fungi that convert the waste to compost work best in stable conditions. A shady area of the garden will stop the compost from becoming too dry.

What goes into making compost?

The micro-organisms that make the compost work best when there is a good balance of green and brown materials. Avoid too much of either, as too much greenery (such as grass clippings), will make the compost smelly and slimy, whereas too much wood or cardboard may leave it too dry. 

What materials can be added?

  • Green materials such as grass clippings, leafy plants including weeds, fruit, vegetables, pet waste/bedding and some uncooked kitchen scraps.
  • Brown materials include prunings, hedge trimmings, woodchips, leaves, paper/card, and straw. 
  • Activators and accelerators can be a useful addition to your compost heap as they contain high levels of nitrogen. This is beneficial if you are running low on green waste. Activators including carbon are helpful if you are lacking brown woody waste as they help break down any green waste you have.
How To: Make Compost at Home

When is compost ready?

Depending on the type of compost heap you have along with how often you turn the heap, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to reach full maturity. When it is mature the compost will be dark brown in colour with a crumbly-like texture and the smell may resemble damp woodland. 

To assist your compost heap, it is important to turn it over every month or so as this will introduce air and stop it from becoming too compacted. It’s ideal to place lots of materials on the heap at once, but many gardeners will accumulate the waste gradually which is not a problem as long as the heap is turned monthly.

What can compost be used for?

Compost is ideal for young, new plants. It can be used in flower beds by digging a 10cm layer of compost into the soil before planting, or if the flowers are already planted, simply spread a thin layer around the base. 

Compost is also a great addition to your lawn care routine, as it helps young grass take root and can make your grass healthier and greener in the long term. To do this, you’ll need to sieve the compost to remove large bits and then mix it with equal parts sand. Then simply shake this mixture evenly over your lawn making sure it’s not too thick or heavy.

Creating your own compost at home is a wonderful way to add nutrients to your garden and this can be accelerated using Miracle Gro Compost Maker if you would like to speed up the process. At Holt Garden Centre we will be happy to help and answer any queries you have about creating your very own compost heap.

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