4 steps for creating perfect compost for your garden

A healthy garden is key to growing delicious veggies, colourful fruits and lovely flowers. So why gamble with pricey, nasty commercial fertilizers when you can use everyday household materials to create nutrient-rich compost that works just as well. Here are four steps for mixing up just the right batch.

4 steps for creating perfect compost for your garden

1. Identify your sources of green and brown material

When it comes to composting, "green" materials are wet or moist, while "brown" materials are dry. Your compost pile needs roughly even amounts of both green and brown material to properly break down into viable fertilizer.

  • Leftover vegetables, pulp left in juicers, egg shells, old bread and similar food items are all green.
  • Dried leaves, paper, coffee grinds and filters, pine cones and dryer lint are a few brown materials you can add to your compost.

You'll want to avoid adding certain materials that could contaminate your compost even though they seem "natural," including wet grass clippings, weeds, feces or meat and dairy products.

2. Select a suitable compost container

Composting containers come in two main varieties: bins and tumblers. How are they different?

  • Bins sit on the ground. They're loaded from the top, and you'll have to turn the materials in order to get them to thoroughly break down.
  • Tumblers have a suspended container that you can easily turn. They're also more expensive and don't hold as much material.

Your budget, location of the bin and volume of compost desired are a few considerations when choosing a bin over a tumbler (or vice versa).

3. Place your compost container

Many people place their compost bins near the garden. They do this for the sake of convenience but also to mitigate the impact of any issues you have with one, including the presence of insects due to decomposing organic material and the earthy smell that it emits – both of which are natural and to be expected to a degree.

  • In addition, a compost bin or tumbler may take up 1.25 to 1.8 square metres of space, which is easier to store beside your garden than next to your back door.

4. Create a maintenance schedule

Your compost pile isn't something to set up and forget about. To get the perfect compost for your soil, you'll need to check your pile at least once a week.

  • If you have a tumbler, turning the contents can be as easy as turning a crank handle.
  • If you have a bin, you may need a small yard rake or stick to stir and turn the contents. You'll also need to add water to keep your compost moist, and wait.

A month or two after you've started composting, you should start seeing rich, black compost created from decomposing green and brown materials.

Troubleshoot common compost problems

No one is born knowing how to create compost and some trial and error is always involved. Fortunately, many before you have ventured into making their own home-grown fertilizer, so fixing these problems is often as easy as tweaking your ingredients. Your local garden centre experts can also provide you with some advice. Keep these four steps in mind and start composting today to make your own nutrient-rich fertilizer.

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