Are you interested in starting to compost at home?
If you want to cut down on the waste that you send out to the landfill every month and give your garden a healthy boost then you’re in luck because it’s an easy process.
Composting at home is something of a fine art and over time, you’ll want to change your mix up a little to get the best results but it’s also very simple to get started with.
A good compost bin is a good start and we’ve done the research for you so head over to our Field Guide to the Best Compost Bins.
Why Do We Compost And What’s Needed From The Process?
Your garden is hungry and there are four key ingredients that it needs to feel well-fed. If your compost bin or compost pile has these things, then the composting process will go very well, indeed.
Where Do We Get These Ingredients From?
Your compost should supply all of these ingredients for your garden, but they aren’t required in equal quantities to get the best results.
Carbon (The Bulk Of Your Compost)
The element that is needed most by the plants in your garden is carbon.
Composters refer to the materials that are rich in carbons as “browns”.
This is because many of them are brown or turn brown after a few days in the composter.
Great sources of carbon include:
- Dried leaves, grass clippins, twigs, branches, yard waste and anything else you’ve pruned from a plant. Food scraps from vegetables and fruit count too. Food waste can be a great source of carbon.
- Hay or straw (in fact any dried grass is fine) are excellent composting materials as is garden waste
- Wood chips, sawdust, etc. (trees are a superb source of carbon)
- Old topsoil (nothing goes to waste in a green garden)
- Manure from horses, cows, etc.
Note: Manure must be from herbivorous animals. Don’t use dog or cat droppings because they both eat meat.
Nitrogen (The Minor Part)
Only a quarter of your compost should be made of nitrogen sources which are commonly called “greens” but which aren’t always green.
Great sources of nitrogen include:
- Some food waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings, cores, seeds and even spoiled items
- Coffee grounds
- Leaves, grass clippings, and any old vegan food
Oxygen (The Easy Bit)
Oxygen comes from the air. So, you don’t have to do very much to get it in your compost pile.
However, the best compost is aerated all the way through and not just on the outside, that means you need to turn the compost weekly using a shovel or a pitchfork.
Water (Very Little Effort)
Most of the time you can control the moisture level of your compost without working for it. If it’s dry – throw in some more greens which tend to be rich in water content. Fruit and vegetable scraps are good for water too.
In fact, most organic materials and green materials, in particular, will be “wet materials”.
If it’s too wet – add browns which aren’t. You’re aiming to keep your compost looking about as damp as soil in the garden.
If you can’t get the balance right, you can always add a little water yourself, but it shouldn’t be necessary.
How Long To Compost?
It takes about 2-3 months for a compost pile to go through the motions and end up as something you can put on your garden.
Organic waste breaks down quite quickly in a composting bin but the finished compost still takes some time to be produced from the composting material.
For this reason, many gardeners will have 2-3 piles on the go so that they always have a supply of fresh compost. This saves them from having to use chemical fertilizers.
If you want to speed up the process. You can always add worms. Worm composting is best done in outdoor space – as some people find the thought of worm compost indoors a bit disturbing. Backyard composting is more fun too!
Yes, don’t compost anything that involves animal products (except herbivore manure) or fish or poultry.
You also need to buy a composting box (or make one) to keep your compost in.
Final Thoughts On How To Compost At Home
Composting at home is very easy and your garden will love it.
The healthier your garden, the more you can grow and the more you can compost. It’s a virtuous circle.
Don’t miss our Guide to the Best Composters.