How to start composting at home – easy tips and best products to buy explained

COMPOSTING might sound like something reserved for the green fingered, but it's much easier than you might think.

Follow these simple steps and you'll be on your way to improving your garden – and helping to save the planet – in no time.

What is composting?

Composting is an environmentally-friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste.

It involves the natural recycling of things like leaves and vegetable scraps into fertiliser.

This can then be used as a soil improver as it is rich in nutrients.

How do I start composting at home?

While it may sound complicated, home composting is actually very straightforward – even for people with the smallest kitchens and gardens.

Plus it can be done all year round – though late summer to early winter is the peak time for making compost.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, this is how to get yourself set up:

1. Choose your container

Once you've decided on your bottomless container, position it in a shady part of your garden.

It can go on any surface, but if placed on hard ground then be sure to add a spadeful of soil to the bin before you start.

Then, on top of that, pile a few inches of any sticks or branches you can find to help aerate the pile.

2. Balance the materials

It's important to have the right mix of materials in the bin.

Experts recommended between 25 and 50 per cent of soft green materials – like grass clippings, weeds or vegetable kitchen waste – with the rest being made up of woody brown materials such as wood chippings.

It is also advised not to let any one material dominate the heap, especially grass clippings.

3. Feed it the right things

While it may seem you can just chuck any old thing in your compost bin, there are some things which are definitely best left out.

This includes meat and dairy products, as they attract pests, as well as any high processed foods.

However, the list of things you can put in is huge.

Fruit and vegetable peelings and offcuts, coffee grounds, tea leaves, grass clippings, dried leaves, manure, herbs, and hair are all good to go in.

4. Turn the heap

Once you're pile is taking shape, it's important to keep an eye on it and turning it when needed.

This adds air into the mix which is essential for composting to occur.

How often will depend on the size of your pile and the materials in it, but a turn with a spade once every week or two should be plenty.

And don't forget to also add water when the heap gets dry in hot weather.

5. Ready to go

The RHS advises people to be patient as garden compost can take between six months and two years to reach maturity.

If you think yours could be ready, check if it is the right appearance, feel and smell.

It should be dark brown, with a crumbly soil-like texture, be warm to touch and smell like damp woodland.

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What are the main rules to keep in mind when composting?

Once you have processed the step-by-step guide, there are also some simple rules to follow when composting.

Firstly, consider the size of materials you are putting in.

The smaller the materials, the faster they will break down – so grab a spade, scissors or a knife.

But while you may want to keep the size of your individual materials small, go big when it comes to quantity.

Use generous amounts of whatever it is you're throwing on to help get the process moving.

While meat and fish are two of the main foods to be avoided when it comes to composting, it is also food to steer clear of cheese, fat scraps and eggs – though the shells are ok.

And never try to compost pet waste, nappies, coal fire ash or any plant material that has been treated with weed killer.

Another top tip if you really want to speed things up is to use a compost accelerator.

This can be a shop-bought one, a pile of rich green leaves like nettles, or even human urine as all three are rich in nitrates.

And finally don't neglect nature's own waste disposal unit – the humble little worm.

They love the warm, moist atmosphere of a compost heap or wormery andconverting it into liquid feed and compost.

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