Owning a garden, whether it’s a verdant square of land that makes up your own backyard, or a green patch in a corner of your flat, is a luxury to have right now. Of course, it will keep you, and your green thumb, on your toes.
As an awareness and eco-consciousness grows among gardeners, about the harmful effects of fertilisers – do harm to the soil in the long-term and even increase water pollution – there are alternatives such as composting to turn to.
It’s easy to do and requires only things you’ll find at home or in the garden.
Why You Should Be Composting
There are several good reasons why gardeners refer to organic compost as ‘Black Gold’. In the long-term, compost can help create a flourishing garden and healthier soil by:
- Improving soil structure;
- Increase nutrient content;
- Allows you to use less water because of higher water retention;
- Improving the health of your plants;
- Controlling the spread of disease and insects; and
- Cutting out harmful fertilisers.
What You to Make You Own Compost
Don’t throw away your coffee grounds or tea leaves, fruit and vegetable waste or grass cuttings, vegetable plant remains or plants. They’re high in nitrogen and cause the heat process in compost.
Things like chopped bark or wood; dead plants and weeds; old flowers (including dried floral displays); and hay are high in carbon and will give your compost fibre, which is essential for getting the soil consistency just right.
While anaerobic composting exists, the system that uses air is recommended.
Your compost pile should just be slightly damp.
Soil or starter compost (Optional):
Just like adding a little curd to the milk you’re hoping to set into curd, adding a little garden soil or some of your last batch of compost in between the layers of your pre-compost pile can help to introduce the correct bacteria to kickstart the process.
A handful of Black Gold
Going from Components to Compost
- Wait until you have enough materials to build a compost pile that’s at least three feet high;
- Lay down a few inches of twigs and straw to aid with draining and aerating the pile;
- Add the greens and browns to your compost pile, in alternating layers of 4-8 inches in thickness;
- Sprinkle water over the pile regularly so that it has the same wetness as a damp sponge would. Too much water and the microbes will get waterlogged and die, causing your pile to rot instead of composting. Too little and the microbes won’t be able to thrive;
- Keep your pile aerated by turning it over on a weekly basis using a garden fork or spade. Turning the pile over regularly helps it compost faster and prevents material from becoming slimy and developing an odour; and
- If you’ve done everything correctly, your compost should be ready in one- to three-months during a spell of warm weather. When the compost no longer gives off heat and becomes dry, brown, and crumbly, it's ready to use it in your beautiful garden space.
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