start a com­post heap

Our green-fin­gered guru, Craig Ro­man of Dob­bies Gar­den Cen­tres, ex­plains how…

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Put your kitchen waste to good use

1GET A BIN Com­post bins start at around £20. Plas­tic bins usu­ally have a door at the front so com­post can be re­moved with­out dis­turb­ing the whole heap. Wooden bins are more suited to large plots and dec­o­ra­tive bins are ideal if you have a small gar­den and your com­post heap will be on show. You could al­ways make your own con­tainer from old pal­lets – just make sure it’s rain­proof, lets air in and al­lows drainage.

2 PUT IT IN PO­SI­TION Your site should be level, well-drained and ide­ally on bare soil to give easy ac­cess to worms, who help­fully break down the con­tents. Make sure it’s shel­tered – you need the com­post to re­tain warmth for the con­tents to rot down well. Don't po­si­tion it in full sun, as this will dry out the com­post.

3 BUILD IT UP Veg peel­ings, fruit scraps, prun­ings, grass clip­pings, cof­fee grounds and teabags are ‘greens’, which rot quickly and pro­vide mois­ture. Col­lect kitchen scraps in a caddy lined with a biodegrad­able bag you can pop into the com­poster whole. You’ll also need ‘browns’, such as crushed egg shells (great for de­ter­ring slugs and snails), pa­per and card, and straw; th­ese pro­vide fi­bre and al­low air pock­ets to form. You’ll need to keep your ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ bal­anced. The Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety sug­gests 25–50% green ma­te­ri­als. If your com­post is too wet you need more ‘browns’, and vice versa, to stop the com­post be­com­ing too dry or too soggy.

4 DON'T BUNG EV­ERY­THING ON IT Cooked food, meat and fish will at­tract rats, so don’t put them in the com­post. Never add pet waste, ashes or non-biode­grade­able ma­te­ri­als. Also, don’t add dis­eased plants. Use a gar­den fork or shovel to turn your com­post once a month, to mix up the mat­ter and add air.

5 BE PA­TIENT Com­post takes be­tween six months and two years to reach ma­tu­rity. It’s ready once it’s dark and crumbly with a strong earthy smell.

‘use the com­post to en­rich your veg­etable plot, plant up pa­tio con­tain­ers or feed your grass’

A bee­hive-style com­post bin is per­fect for the bot­tom of the gar­den 'com­post­ing is a cheap and eco-friendly way to turn house­hold waste into nu­tri­ent-rich com­post for your gar­den'

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