How to make the best garden compost – totally for free
No matter how rich your soil, if you want to grow your own food there will come a point where you’re going to need to put back some of the energy the plants have taken out. The good news is that this is really easy: all you need to do is make your own compost.
It’s simple – it requires nothing more than space for a heap and a load of old kitchen scraps and other household garbage.
So what’s the secret to creating a rich, crumbly homemade compost?
1. Make your heap at least a yard high, wide and deep so that you can turn it regularly. The more air and warmth in the heap the faster the decomposition.
2. Cover the heap with a compost comforter to keep in heat and moisture. You can buy these or make your own. Other things you could use include: a slab of old carpet, pack wool, an old blanket or fleece inside sturdy plastic sheeting. Fold over the edges and staple shut to keep out the rain.
3. Turn the heap regularly to get air inside and to mix up the wet and dry ingredients
4. Ensure you add an equal ratio of wet and dry material. Build in layers, one wet, one dry. Wet kitchen scraps can be followed by dry prunings
5. Avoid tipping on a load of grass clippings which tend to form a ‘brick of slime’ that air cannot penetrate. Instead, break up the clippings by mixing them with layers of shredded paper or torn cardboard, or something similar
6. Don’t add very thick stems. Use a shredder, where possible, to break up tough clippings
7. Don’t add any meat or dairy unless you want to bring in the neighborhood rats
8. If the heap seems too dry sprinkle over some water
9. If it smells rotten you need to get more air in the mix. Turn it and add paper shreddings if needed
10. Looking like nothing is happening? Add diluted urine. Seriously, it’s free and works wonders!
How to tell if it’s ready? When it smells earthy, looks like dark chocolate and crumbles like dark brown sugar it is ready to shovel on your plot.