Springtime 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
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.
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.
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.