A 4 Step guide to making and using compost.
- Step 1- mixing the food and grass stuff together.
Make sure that you mix all your brown and green materials together.
The green materials are such things as such as the grass cuttings, the flowers when you have de-headed the old ones or vegetables that you are throwing out and any soil that you have left over from a garden. I like to take some of the old soil and place that in with the garden waste.
The brown materials are things such as straw, sawdust, and dry leaves as this will help your pile stay warm. This will actually insulate your compost heap, and this is where you will get that steaming effect. The bigger you have it, then the more it is protected from the effects of the weather. However, if you are going to have it on the ground then remember to not actually have it on the ground but try and put something down first to protect it from the cold. You can use a ground sheet or something similar.
Then you can take the vegetables that you throw out such as potato peels, cauliflower leaves, cabbage etc and add it to your compost bin and give it a really good mix.
DO NOT PUT IN MEAT AND BONES as you will just attract scavengers.
The best amount of compost to make is about 3 feet high to begin with. Now you can do this in a corner and not have a bin, or like me use a compost bin and keep it all neat and tidy as I have a JRT and he will just see somewhere to dig and dig and dig.
I know that I might be obsessed with horse manure but if you can get some of this …. then chuck it in and give it a good mix. (You cannot have a delicate stomach here) and pop your gardening gloves on and give a good mix with your hands as it will definitely get mixed in the pile.
- Step 2 – Water your compost heap.
This is most important, any and all compost heaps needs water. It enables the materials to start breaking down. Sprinkle water over the pile regularly so it has a moist consistency, and you can judge it by how easily the material in the heap is breaking down.
If you have built up against a wall or something then nature will do it for you, but if like me you have it in a bin somewhere then either take the lid off during the rain or just get a hose pipe and give it a watering. It needs to be consistently wet or will it just go dry and lack any nutrients and will be of no use to your garden.
- Step 3 – Give your pile a good stir.
Get your old faithful garden spade or rake and give it a good stir. Try and get as far down in the heap as you can as it does it good to stir and move the compost around. It helps it aerate and allows you to mix the compost so that you can see what area needs watering or that the mix is ready for your garden.
Don’t feel that you have to empty the bin as that will be of no use and just leave a mess. If the top of the compost heap is ready then great use it, and by emptying it that way, you will get to the bottom in no time at all and you can then give it the same care at the bottom as you did the top.
- Step 4 – Feed Your Garden. …
Take some of the nice moist compost and if you are planting then pop some in the ground but not too much as you can actually overfeed your plant as you can actually kill it. Rule of thumb is taking a handful and roll it into a ball, and it should be no more than the size of your palm and not too big (just do it as though you are hiding a small ball in your hand when you close both hands together), then take the compost ball and pull it apart and place in the ground and around the planting area. Don’t forget to make sure it is moist.
When you are planting the area the other plant needs feeding too and if like me you are going to use to give your plants a treat then just sprinkle it around the plant but don’t bury it and then rake the soil around the plant, as that will help feed all around it keep the soil looking fresh.
Make sure that you have some of the soil from your previous garden and add worms. You get such the best result with having worms in your soil as they turn it over you. I have gotten to the point that I will actually pick them up now and place them in. Worms will do a great job of turning the soil over for you and really is nature at its best.
When planting I tend to try and use all the soil that was in the actual tub especially after leaving it soaking overnight. The bowl should be no more than just covering the hole at the bottom of the tub, but it gives your plant that little bit of TLC as getting it from a shop, it might not have had the watering that you will do. So, when you plant use the compost and as much as the soil out of the tub as you can. Don’t forget to add the worms to the ground, and then the soil that you don’t use simply add it to the compost heap.
If you keep topping up your compost heap throughout the spring, summer, and autumn then you will find a regular supply of great plant food, and you will give your garden the best start in life and continue to give it the best of care going forward.
If anybody has any questions then please comment and don’t forget that this is how I do things and I am a novice gardener, but it seems to be working and I keep saying gardening is not a marathon, nor is it a sprint but a slow methodical way of doing things and you will over the years grow to enjoy the effort that is put in.
Nothing looks better than a beautiful well fed, well-watered and well soiled garden.