Home Composting for the Beginner

The concept of composting has been around since the dawn of man, and modern composting simply means speeding up the natural process of decomposition. To produce a good quality compost that will give you healthy flowers and a beautiful garden boils down to a few simple rules, if you follow these rules it will give you a solid base for your composting knowledge. At a later date you may want to investigate more scientific methods to make your compost, but it is important to understand the basics. Once you do then mother nature plays a big part!

Where should I put my compost heap?

To start, you need to choose an appropriate place for your compost heap or compost bin. Aesthetically it is not going to be the most attractive item in your garden, so you may want to consider hiding it out of sight somewhere. It is important that your compost heap will have enough space for it to breath, and it is situated in a partially shaded area so it doesn’t overheat. You will also need to consider the space around the compost heap as it will need to be turned manually. A good size for a compost heap is around 3ft x 3ft x 3ft, as this will make it easy to turn.

What are the essential elements for successful compost?

There are rules to follow here:
  1. Temperature – A good compost heap should be around 150 degrees fahrenheit. This can be measured with a compost thermometer.
  2. Aeration – Make sure there is enough room for the compost to breath.
  3. Moisture – It is important that your compost is neither too dry or too wet. Generally speaking the more green material you add (e.g. grass), then the less water you need to add and the more dry material you add (e.g. hay), the more water you need to add. Similarly if you live in a wet area you may want to consider covering your compost up to prevent it becoming too damp.

What Should I Add to My Compost Heap?

Any organic waste can be added to your compost heap, i.e grass or weeds from the garden, food waste from your kitchen etc. It is important not to squash all the material down to try and fit more in as this will stop your compost heap from being able to breathe. Another good tip is to keep a good variety of organic matter in your compost heap – swap between garden waste and kitchen waste for example.
If you follow these simple rules when preparing and maintaining your compost heap, you will get a better quality compost and therefore a more beautiful garden.