Compost is the start of soil health; recycling nutrients and building soil structure, improving water retention or drainage as needed. Making compost is also a cornerstone of green gardening; it’s your very own on-site, biological recycling system and an integral part of your backyard ecology. At best, it’s also very cheap, and good fun.
Making good compost is an art, and it’s worth getting it right. Good compost is a pleasure to make and an asset in your garden. A badly maintained compost heap, on the other hand, can be a source of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) – and a slimy horror to deal with.
There’s a lot of advice available these days, as local councils are promoting home composting for its superb ability to reduce waste at source. Advice often conflicts, so it’s worth reading around to find the techniques and equipment that suit you and your situation best:
- The Community Composting Network supports and promotes community groups, social enterprises and individuals which are involved in producing compost from green/food waste and using it in their local communities.
- Garden Organic is the working name of the Henry Doubleday Research Association, and their compost guide is available free online. And they also encourage peat free gardening by the campaign “don’t dig peat“
- The Master Composters scheme encourages people in their local community to start composting at home, and offers support to people who are already home composting via a network of volunteer master composters.
- The Centre for Alternative Technology champion the cause of high fibre Cool composting – adding cardboard and paper to your compost for better compost, and less waste. They also sell another tipsheet, Composting Secrets.
- Even a tiny back yard or a patio is easily big enough for a worm bin – true enthusiasts have cheerfully kept them indoors and lived to tell the tale! Mary Appelhof’s ‘Worms Eat My Garbage’ is the classic guide – available from many UK gardening suppliers.
- Worm composting can also be a good solution for problem waste such as cooked food and animal products, if done in a specially designed bin such as the Can-O-Worms.
- Wiggly Wigglers are mail order suppliers whose core business is worms and compost. They offer an almost bewildering variety of composting aids, but backed up with plenty of enthusiasm and advice, such as their excellent blog.
- Composting products and information are also available from The Recycle Works.