Garden Compost : A guide for setting up your garden

Home composting benefits not only your garden but also the environment as you are reducing all the nasty stuff going into landfill and on top of this you are saving money. Now that’s what I call a win/win. Plus, you are also saving time with no more trips to the garden centre for bags of compost!
So what does Compost do for my garden?
Compost has enormous benefit to your whole garden, as any keen gardener will happily explain. Compost improves drainage and moisture absorption especially in soil of a poor quality, thus enabling more plants to grow and flourish. Compost also provides nutrients and reduces soil erosion.
Making your own compost
Did you know that nearly half of all foodwaste sent to landfill could have been put in a compost bin.
* Foods that can be composted:
* Raw Peelings
* Cores
* Scraps from any fruit or vegetable
* Teabags
* Coffee grounds
* Crushed egg shells
Remember not to include any meat or fish based products.
Grass cuttings and other garden waste such as branchs, leaves and flowers can also be composted.
Where to store your Compost
There are many bins currently available:
Recycled Plastic Container
Plastic containers are great value for money and generally come in a dark green to blend into your garden. These containers come with a simple lid on the top to add your food waste.
Compost Tumblers
The churning of a tumbler accelerates the rate at which your food waste decomposes thus reducing the time to wait for your compost. You are required to spin your tumbler as most containers do not do this automatically.  This allows the contents of your bin to mix so you will not have to do this later.
Metal Composters
A fantastic decorative item, better suited for smaller spaces as more pleasing on the eye than other composters. Metal composters generally have a lid on the top to add your waste and an easy access hatch at the bottom to remove your compost.
Wooden Composters
Can vary greatly in size meaning that whether your garden is large or small one can easily be installed. Look for a composter made from FSC compliant wood which proves it has been sourced from a sustainable forest. There are also a few options available that are coated in non-toxic wood preserve to enable bugs and worms to rummage unharmed through your compost.
Choosing the site for your compost bin:
The ideal site for your compost bin is in a sunny spot on top of soil. The sun speeds up the composting process and being on top of soil allows insects (especially worms!) to gain access to your food and garden waste. Drainage and aeration are also better on soil than on patio or concrete. However if you have to put your composter on to a hard surface put a layer of paper, twigs or existing compost onto the base so that insects can colonise here.
Do not have your composter on decking as liquids from your composter will seep from the bottom and stain your wood.
Gravel is ok but just remember to add a layer of paper, twigs or existing compost on to the bottom of your composter as mentioned before.
Make sure that the site is easily accessible so you will not be tempted on a cold and bitter morning to put your food waste in the kitchen bin as it is too much of an effort to trek to the outdoor composter. If you do think that this may be an issue, try keeping a smaller bin outside your back door which can be easily filled fom your kitchen and then emptied every other day into your main composter down at the bottom of the garden.
Screening your bin
If space is limited in your garden, don’t worry you can always disguise your composter with plants or a trellis. Bamboo or Willow screening are also a fantastic way of making any bin area more attractive.
When can I use my compost?
It takes between nine and twelve months for your compost to be ready (this will be slightly quicker if you use a compost tumbler). Once your food and garden waste materials have turned into a crumbly dark material which looks like moist soil it will be ready to add to your beds. Don’t worry if it looks a little lumpy or there are still bitsof eggshell to be seen. Your plants won’t mind!
Gardener Jacks seasonal tip – Spring is the best time to add compost to your garden 😉
Happy Gardening .. Jack

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