March 13th – March 19th plays host to National Compost Week here in the UK, celebrating the benefits of composting and encouraging more of us to become rotters! Read on to find out more about why composting is so good for the environment.
Why should we compost?
About a third of the food produced around the world goes to waste, and much of it ends up in landfills – where it becomes a source of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Eliminating waste is the ultimate solution, but some will always remain. For that, there is a solution that nearly anyone can do: composting!
Home composting is the most environmentally-friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste, plus it produces compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver.
What can and can’t be composted?
Anything that was once living will compost, but some items are best avoided. For best results, use a mixture of ingredients and equal amounts by volume of ‘green’ and ‘brown’ items. Green items are nitrogen-rich ingredients such as;
- Grass cuttings
- Young weeds
- Uncooked fruit and vegetable peelings
- Tea leaves and coffee grounds
- Animal manure from herbivores (cows & horses)
- Poultry manure
Brown items are carbon-rich ingredients such as cardboard (cereal packets, toilet tubes and egg boxes) paper towels and bags, bedding from vegetarian pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, tough hedge clippings, woody prunings, old bedding plants, hay and straw.
Other compostable items include wood ash (in moderation) hair and nail clippings, egg shells and natural fibres like wool and cotton.
Things that MUST NOT be composted include meat, fish and dairy products, cooked food, coal, dirty nappies, dog faeces or cat litter.
Where do you make your compost?
A tailor-made compost bin is not strictly necessary, you can just build a heap and cover it over with some polythene or cardboard. However, bins do look neater and are easier to manage!
You can build your own, buy one from any number of suppliers, or get one cheaply from your local council.
The ideal compost bin is easily accessible, has no gaps in the side, has a lid and may be easily insulated with cardboard or straw. It should ideally be located in a sunny or semi-shady position in your garden, placed directly on soil or turf and placed away from any running water sources.
When will the compost be ready?
Compost can be made in as little as six to eight weeks, or, it can take a year or more. In general, the more effort you put in, the quicker you will get the compost you need!
When the ingredients you have put in your container have turned into a dark brown, earthy-smelling material, the composting process is complete. It is then best left for a month or two to ‘mature’ before it is used. Don’t worry if your compost is not fine and crumbly. Even if it is lumpy, sticky or stringy, with bits of twig and eggshell still obvious, it is quite usable. It can be sieved before use if you prefer. Any large bits can be added back into your new compost heap.
What should you do with your compost?
You can add compost to your flower and vegetable beds, window boxes, and container gardens; incorporate it into tree beds; mix it with potting soil for indoor plants; or spread it on top of the soil on your lawn. Compost can be used as a soil amendment or as a mulch.
If your compost heap is ready to go but you need a helping hand getting it where it needs to be, our team are happy to help. Here at Rosewood, we cover a wide range of garden maintenance services for both domestic and commercial clients. With the warmer weather slowly creeping in, our gardens are needing a little TLC to become the tranquil spaces we’ll eventually enjoy on a warm summers evening. Give our team a call on 07393 821797 or fill out the form here to get booked in!