For anyone who is a keen gardener, a good compost pile is like ‘liquid gold’ for your garden. Not only will compost provide fuel for your soil and lawn with rich nutrients, known as humus, but, as a bonus, it is a fantastic way to use garden materials and household waste – all while getting rid of any chemical fertilisers that would normally be applied to your lawns and garden.
In fact, according to eartheasy.com “composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can. (This is) important because when organic matter hits the landfill, it lacks the air it needs to decompose quickly. Instead, it (can) create harmful methane gas as it breaks down, increasing the rate of global warming and climate change.”
There is no right time to start a compost pile, you can even begin in winter. And you will also be surprised at just how much material you can use from your own garden and your household scraps and waste. But, before you dive in, there are a few tried and tested tricks to help get you started:
- Always start your compost pile on bare or cleaned earth
- Lay sticks, twigs or even straw down first, as this will help ventilate your compost as it decomposes over time
- Now you can add your compost materials - but try to use both dry and moist materials. For example, moist material would be food scraps, tea bags and even eggshells – but avoid using cooked food and animal products. While dry materials would be leaves, grass cuttings etc. (avoid any diseased plants though).
- Keep your compost pile moist – especially if you don’t get any winter rainfall – so water it every now and then
- Also, as this is a compost pile, there is decomposition, and some smells will come from the pile - so try cover it. You can use anything you have like plastic sheeting, cardboard or even carpet scraps.
- Lastly, remember to turn your compost pile every week or so, as this is key to keeping it well aerated, which helps with breaking down all the materials
- You will know your compost is ready to use if the original organic materials are no longer recognisable and the compost is dark and crumbly with an earthy odor.
Did you know that a compost-like equivalent is also posing as a great way to create energy and has the ability to power up entire manufacturing plants? Take for example the biogas company Bio2Watt, which uses anaerobic digestion (the breakdown of organic matter into biofertiliser) to power an entire motor manufacturing plant in Roslyn, South Africa.
Considering the benefits of compost and the methane gas created by organic waste dumped in landfills, we should all be separating our household waste and either making our own compost or supporting local compost makers. There are many sites that can help you with ideas and tips as you grow and nourish your own compost heap. All good garden centers also have people on hand to answer any questions you may have. So why not give it a go and get your compost pile ready to use in Spring this year – it’s not only good for your garden, but good for the environment as well.