Starting your own compost heap might be simpler than you thought – all it really takes is 3 ingredients: waste, water and air. As this week is UK compost week, we can’t think of a better time to have a go at creating your very own compost heap!
So why compost?
Composting is an especially environmentally beneficial activity, as it reduces food and garden waste going to landfill, encourages garden wildlife, and increases organic matter in your garden’s soil.
The habitat created by owning a compost heap, provides a home for a fascinating array of detritivores (creatures which consume and break down waste, releasing nutrients) such as woodlice, worms and slugs. The presence of these in turn means you may be lucky enough to attract hedgehogs, toads, newts and even slow worms!
Home-made compost is great at improving soil fertility, structure and health – the increase in organic matter helps water retention and increases nutrient content. Healthier soil boosts the health of your plants, meaning they can develop a higher resistance to pests and disease!
How to get started
Wooden slatted compost bins are recommended when creating a wildlife friendly heap – the slats make it easier for wildlife to enter and exit. These can either be purchased ready made or, if you’re feeling particularly crafty, can be assembled by joining four pallets in a square.
Finely shredded green (veg peelings, grass, leaves) and brown (sticks, paper, wood shavings) waste make for excellent compost food. Meat and waste cooked food should be avoided, however, as this can attract rats.
Your heap needs to stay moist to continue decomposing efficiently, so remember to give it a bit of a water during any prolonged dry spells. Keeping it covered also helps to retain moisture and speed up rotting. Turning the heap will aerate the heap, and assist decomposition, but its recommended that this is avoided in summer and winter to minimise disturbing or harming the sheltering critters.
Once your compost looks dark in colour, and has a crumbly texture, it is ready to be used on your garden – happy composting!
Francesca Lant, Admin and Marketing Apprentice