All the dirt on compost

By  Leanne Mason

I am always amazed by the number of people who do not make their own compost. Even gardeners. Composting is beneficial to your garden, to your fitness, and to the planet – and it is pretty much free. So for those who have never tried, or tried and had problems, I thought we might track my own compost method for a few months.  I’ll only post when there is a change though, otherwise this could be a very boring blog.

Ingredients: The most important thing to remember is to balance wet and dry, or green and brown materials.  Too wet and it will stink, too dry and it will not break down at all.  I have a large volume of materials, manure and bedding from the chooks, including shredded paper, coffee grounds from a local café, prunings and household scraps.  You might have a supply of lawn clippings, sawdust, or whatever.  I no longer use bread, rice or any carbs, and you shouldn’t add meat or any meat product (except blood and bone I guess).  Of course, they are all organic and will break down, but they tend to attract rats. The smaller the pruning pieces the faster they break down; however, a few twiggy pieces improve your heap as they allow air into the mix, preventing anaerobic breakdown (which equals a smelly and methane producing heap)

Method:  I use an old round compost bin, with the addition of a pipe with holes in it to increase ventilation to the centre of the heap.  I put the bin wherever I want the run-off to go, usually under fruit trees. When the bin is full, I lift it off, remove the pipe and let it sit.  In the end, if you wait long enough, it will turn into compost all by itself.  If you want it a bit faster than that you can turn it to speed up the process. I usually do this with a fork, which can improve your fitness.  Others swear by a compost turning device that looks a bit like a large wire corkscrew. This method will mean you might have three heaps going – one that is ready or nearly ready for use, one where you have just filled the bin, and a new one just starting off.