Making your own compost
A great source of bulky, organic material is your own garden compost. The best time to make some is in spring, because it will rot down faster. It’s dead easy to make, it costs nothing and it does the garden a whole lot of good. You can either buy a bin - many local councils run recycling schemes, so give them a call - or make your own heap.
|What you need:|
If using a self-assembly version, you need:
|First prepare the compost area|
If erecting your own bin, hammer into the ground four 10cm x 10cm (4in x 4in) posts to enclose an area about 1sq m (40sq in.) Then bash the soil with the back of a spade to consolidate it.
|Next either tack wire netting to the posts, or nail planks around them, leaving the front side easily detachable so you can get the finished compost out.|
|Add the drainage material|
In the bottom put a 10cm (4in) layer of coarse material, such as straw or twigs.
|Make the sandwich|
Put in a 15cm (6in) layer of garden waste and water if it’s dry. Put in alternate layers of different materials - like a sandwich.
|Turn up the heat|
Compost has to heat up to work properly. To do this it needs to have a certain critical mass. A metre cubed is good. It must also be layered to heat up effectively. On top of each layer add a sprinkling of manure or soil. This helps to introduce the bacteria and fungi (or 'heat') needed to break down the organic material.
|Cover it up|
Then cover with a sheet, an old bit of carpet, polythene or tarpaulin and leave it for about three months to rot down.
Uncover, open the front, take all the compost out, then put it back again. This process adds air to the mix and helps it rot down faster.
|Three months later.|
Leave for another three months and your compost will be brown, crumbly and sweet-smelling; ready to use in the garden.
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