How to make your own garden compost

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THE news that the council is to cease the kerb-side collection of garden rubbish is sure to prompt some adverse comment. Depending on the size of one’s garden and how much is under cultivation, even the fortnightly uplift at certain times in the year is often not enough and extra has to be taken to the Mansfield Road site. Everyone will be expected to dispose of all of it themselves – that is, provided one has containers for storage and transport.

Of course, the council may be hoping people will resort to using the material to make their own garden compost. There are various methods of doing this: constructing a compost-making structure of purchasing a compost bin.

It is, after all, the most enviornmentally-friendly method of dealing with both garden and kitchen waste, and success brings an excellent soil improver, adding
nutrients, humus and advantageous structure to the soil – all for free.

Composting is done all year round but the end result is not something that can be achieved quickly, it takes time and nature itself; anything from six months to two years to produce enough to use throughout the garden, such as for mulching or when planting perennials, shrubs and trees.

In a small garden it will probably only be possible to have a special compost bin, however, with this success is still possible. Also, leaves collected and stored in large polythene bags will eventually turn into what is called lead mould, a valuable soil-conditioning substance.

Another method is to construct a framework, round or square, using just wire mesh and a few stakes to contain a mixture of waste material. All these methods are for the small garden; for anyone with more under cultivation and so quantities of suitable matter that can be comoposted, then something more elaborate is needed.

For best results the construction of one or more enclosures will bring its rewards. For this, old wooden pallets lined with wire mesh can be used to form a square, the front hinged or wired so as to be a gate to be removed for turning the heap. Alternatively, planks of wood can be used to make a square approximately three feet wide and three feet high, allowing not less than ¼-inch between each plank to allow air to the heap, the latter essential to successful composting.

The subject will be continued next week, looking at getting the correct balance of material going into the heap – another essential for good results.