A great way to keep plants lush and healthy is right at your front door. By collecting fallen leaves and other household waste, you can often provide essential nourishment to your plants without spending a cent!
Compost heaps are a wonderful way to turn your food scraps and yard waste into "black gold" that will feed your plants and enrich your soil.
A typical household produces approximately 60kg of wet waste per month, which consists predominantly of grass cuttings, leaves, and vegetable and food scraps.
It would be a shame for all of it to go to waste, so why not get started on your own compost heap whilst helping the environment and your garden simultaneously?
To inspire homeowners to make their own compost piles at home, we researched the best techniques for making compost piles.
The following are 10 easy steps to make your own compost heap:
1. Buy a decent compost container
Choose a container for your compost and place it in a grassy, relatively shady area of your garden. It is recommended to choose a container without a bottom - the compost heap should be directly touching the ground - and one that is the right size for you and your family. Ensure it is large enough to contain everything you need to dispose of, but not too big.
2. Create a base
At the bottom of the heap, pile several inches of branches and twigs to help aerate it.
3. Get the balance right
The correct balance of nitrogen, carbon, water, and air is needed for a successful composting process. You will find nitrogen in the green materials you use and carbon in the brown materials. Getting the right mix is key to good compost. Compost must be balanced between greens and browns. If it's too wet, add more browns. If it's too dry, add more greens. In addition, the mixture must have enough air. By adding scrunched-up bits of cardboard to your compost, you can create air pockets that will keep your compost healthy.
4. Prep the container
Ensure the container is prepared by breaking up any large chunks of material.
5. What to include in the container
Some of the best ingredients for a successful compost heap include:
Garden waste: Carbon is found in fallen leaves, and nitrogen is found in grass cuttings. Leaf waste takes longer to decompose than general organic kitchen waste but produces the best compost. You can also include twigs, dead flowers, and weeds that haven't gone to seed.
Household waste: Fruit and vegetable peels, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg boxes, old wine, wine corks, dry cat or dog food, hair (human and pet), accumulated dust from sweeping and vacuuming, old herbs and spices, shredded newspaper, and receipts.
6. What NOT to include in the container
There are certain things that shouldn't be placed in the container. Foods such as meat, milk, and bread should not be included in the compost because they rot , as should high-processed foods. Diseased plants, as well as cat or dog droppings, and baby diapers, should also not be included. Composting any of these will result in unwanted pests and smells. Also, avoid composting perennial weeds (such as dandelions and thistles) or weeds with seeds. It is important to remember that plastics, glass, and metals are not compostable and need to be recycled separately.
7. Bury new scraps
When you are adding new scraps quite regularly, it is best to bury them under the pile of material already breaking down instead of just throwing them on top.
8. Give it a good airing
A well-cared-for compost heap requires regular turning. Mixing the materials with a spade or shovel around once a week will help aerate the pile slightly. Turning compost helps aerate and mix up the waste and cuttings, resulting in a faster-composting process.
9. Maintain moisture with water
The pile should be moistened from time to time with water. If it is extremely hot outside, you should consider covering the pile so that it retains its moisture.
10. Ready to use
After a few months, you will be able to use your compost. This will be evident by its dark brown colour, earthy smell, and warmth to the touch, which is a result of the microbes that live inside.
A Little Waste Goes A Long Way
Think about the host of benefits of saving your scraps next time you chop up your favourite fruit salad or trim your tree.
Home and Garden Benefits:
It's easy: It's the decomposing food that does all the work.
Less garbage: Imagine how much garbage you save in your own kitchen if you compost; that's how much garbage we could save in dumps and landfills if we composted.
Your kitchen smells better: The decomposition odour from your garbage bin will not fill your kitchen if you put the fruit and vegetable peelings in the compost container.
It's inexpensive: You do not need fancy equipment to create a compost heap; you can build one for a minimal cost.
It can save you money: Making your own compost at home will not only make the environment a little bit happier but also keep you from breaking the bank. Less watering means lower water bills. Forgoing chemical fertilizers means fewer trips to the home improvement store.
You create a rich fertilizer: Your composted scraps become nutrient-rich organic fertilizer that can be used in the garden, lawn, and landscaping. Since you no longer need to purchase fertilizer at the garden store, this fertilizer is also cost-effective. Additionally, gardens fed with compost require less water and less fertilizer to generate the same level of growth as those without composted matter in the soil.
Retains Your Soil’s Moisture: Home composting improves your soil, absorbs water, and keeps your plants moist and nourished. Adding compost to your garden reduces the need for watering and inhibits weed growth.
Reduces Pollution: Composting prevents organic matter from going to landfills, therefore reducing the amount of methane production in garbage disposal areas.
Prevents Erosion: The strategic placement of compost near water, on hills, along roads, and even on golf courses and playing fields can eliminate or reduce erosion.
Lowers Your Carbon Footprint: Composting provides many benefits, but the most important is its ability to reduce methane emissions from landfills. As landfills decompose without adequate airflow, this powerful greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere. Keeping your food waste from contributing to the pile, you can reduce your carbon footprint by composting at home.
Reduces Toxins: When composted soil is added to soil that has been exposed to toxic matter, such as fuels and pesticides, the soil is able to regenerate much faster. By composting, it is possible to prevent the spread of toxins into nearby plants and water sources, improving the health of the soil and the water as well.
Small steps make BIG IMPACT!
The smallest contribution you can make to green living in your home can have a significant effect on the environment.