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Start Home Composting this Spring

sponsoredSpringtime gardening can be a tedious waiting game, as the earth has not yet fully recovered from a winter thaw. With plants not yet ready to begin their growth before the prime of summer, you can often feel at a loose end in your garden. A valuable way to spend your time in the spring period, however, is gathering materials to produce your own compost.

Image by Joi Ito - licence

Image by Joi Ito

Home composting is not only good for the environment, making use of household waste to prevent unnecessary landfill and incineration, but can also save you quite a lot of money on store-bought compost — the price of which mysteriously peaks in the summertime, when everyone is looking to use it! Here are a few simple tips on how you can start producing your own compost this spring — starting the process months in advance of summer will allow you to enrichen your plants with natural, resourceful compost when you really need it.

How does composting work?

Composting is nature’s way of establishing a full life cycle for plants. A plant lives its life before dying, decomposing, and enriching the earth with nutrients to promote further plant growth. If you localise this decomposition process to a compost heap, you can stockpile the compost to use as and when you need it, on all different types of plants. Your compost solution consists of decomposed organic matter, with the all-important plant-enrichening nutrients retained.

What do I use to make compost?

More local councils are starting to charge for the privilege of removing your garden waste. This is taxing on gardeners, as you can already spend quite a lot of money on improving your garden before worrying about waste disposal costs. Not only will home composting save you money on buying compost, but also on garden waste removal charges.

Compost 2

Rotten fruits and vegetables are great for composting, as are decomposing plant matter and grass cuttings. You can also use old newspapers and shredded paper, as well as tea bags and coffee grounds. However, never use garden waste consisting of diseased plants or flowers, as this will contaminate your compost. A huge list of compostable items can be found on the Recycle Now website.

How do I make compost?

Composting can be as simple as gathering all your materials into a pile and waiting for them to decompose, but this is a very inefficient and wasteful method, as the elements will often wash away or reduce the size of your compost heap. The most efficient way to produce compost is by using a compost tumbler.

Compost 3

Composters from Mantis can produce lovely, earthy compost in as little as 14 days. And as they have turning handles on them, the drum can be spun easily — this distributes the heat generated by composting and speeds the process up. A mere compost heap or static drum is not afforded this assistance, which can lead to poor compost.

Dispersing the compost among your plants can be trickier than you think, as some plants respond better to compost being laid below the surface of the soil, whereas other like it on the surface, for example. A helpful guide to laying compost is available at WikiHow the guide also explains when to tell your compost is ready, which is very handy.

Hopefully with this starter’s guide to home composting, you will feel motivated to begin preparing your garden for the summer by producing your own compost — saving both money and the planet in the process.

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Me, my spade and I

Out of the city

Usually I do not write about gardening tools or promote them but after digging out the umpteenth bed with one spade I felt that it was time that I honour that spade.

When I first started gardening with a strawberry plant in our 2×2 square metre garden I did that for a reason. We already had the notion that we wanted to move out of the city. We had long since embraced an organic, ecological lifestyle and we knew that staying in that crummy apartment in the city and working in an office would eventually make us very unhappy. So we decided to take the plunge and buy a piece of land to grow our own and to live happily ever after.

Grow your own

To prepare myself for this life I decided I needed to start growing food in our small city garden where the sun hit a brick wall leaving the rest of the garden forever in the shade because of the surrounding buildings. I bought a few containers, potting compost and that first strawberry plant. We made frequent trips to the garden centre to get inspiration and to be in awe of the possibilities. During one of those trips I saw this beautiful spade standing there shining and enticing. I wanted it… badly. Until that point I had been gardening with a gardening set costing just a few euros so I was quite taken aback with the price of the garden spade. My husband convinced me to buy it and to this day I have not regretted it.

Spade 2

Wolf-Garten Spade

My Wolf-Garten women’s spade stood unused still shiny and enticing for a while because I didn’t really need it at the time (I just wanted it…..badly!). As soon as we moved to our plot of land I started to use it and dug out many veg beds using the deep bed method. It was really hard work because of the thick clay soil and the many, many, many rocks we have here. The spade took a heavy beating but the blade is still sharp. The size of the spade is perfect for me, since it is a tool that most people use a lot it’s definitely worth buying one that suits your size.

Spade 3

At the end of the growing season I usually put some special wood oil on the handle and clean the blade but that is about all the maintenance I do and to be honest, many times I have put it away with big clumps of soil still on it, just too tired to take it off.

Spade 1

So here is to my spade, that has provided me with juicy strawberries and many fresh vegetables. I could not have done it without you!

What is your favorite gardening tool?