Compost Heap or Compost Bin - - - - - A New Years Resolution


Each New Year many people make a resolution vowing to give some bad habit up, unfortunately most find that starting a habit is easier than breaking one.
To this end, let me recommend starting the habit of compost making, a habit that will enrich your life and your garden.

Composting involves the break down or decay of waste organic matter by fungi and bacteria. The green waste suitable for break down on a compost heap includes grass clippings, dead flowers, fruit and vegetable peelings. The "brown" waste suitable includes shredded un-glossy paper, straw and chopped up twigs. There is no reason why we should toss these materials into a wheelie bin, when we can turn them into life giving compost within our own gardens. Well-rotted compost, when worked into your beds will improve crumb structure on either heavy or sandy soils. Rich compost also acts as a slow release plant food; this was discovered hundreds of years ago when gardeners found that adding rotted waste to planting pits was beneficial to the plants growth.

Ideally, locate your compost heap in partial sunlight, as full sun will cause the heap to dry out and in turn slow the decomposition process. The heaps base should be in direct contact with open soil, this allows fat juicy earthworms to enter the mix and speed up decomposition. A tidy compost heap to serve the average sized garden can be constructed by lashing four wooden pallets to deeply driven stakes. In return for recycling the old pallets, you will benefit from their wooden laths many gaps, allowing air circulation, an important compost-making factor. Hows that for compost bin plans in action.

Another important factor affecting the speed of decomposition is moisture, too much or too little will cause compost formation to become a long drawn out affair. I have found that covering the heap with an old piece of carpet prevents heavy rain from entering whilst maintaining a sweaty moisture level within the heap. When adding very dry materials such as untreated wood shavings or cardboard it helps maintain the heaps moisture levels to lightly sprinkle their layer with water. You could of course add a water rich "green" material such as grass clippings, however you should follow this again with an equal layer of "brown" high carbon material such as straw or shredded paper. An excess of brown material slows the formation of compost whereas an excess of green material for example grass clippings results in a slimy silage heap exuding all manner of smells and juices.
Your well-layered compost heap will take around nine months to provide you with its brown gold, if the balancing act of moisture, air, heat and materials is achieved.

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