If you have the space and the inclination, you can compost just about anything, as long as it's of an organic, carbon-based nature, that is! There are some basic rules for making compost.
The Five Basic Essentials
A Mixture of Materials
Making good compost requires a mixture of 'Greens' (soft, sappy, nitrogen rich materials) such as grass clippings and young weeds and 'Browns' (tougher more fibrous materials) such as old bedding plants
Water is an essential ingredient. Make sure your heap is kept moist, water the heap as you add in new materials if necessary, not just at the end.
Air is essential for a fast, odour free heap, but too much can dry it out
To exclude rain and also keep moisture and heat in.
Layering or Mixing
Traditionally' materials are added to a compost heap in layers' alternating 'Greens' and 'Browns'. This helps give an idea of how much of each is being added' but mixing everything at the start is more effective
Choosing a system
There are a wide range of different composting systems and bins available. Choosing which method of composting is the most appropriate will depend on the material you would like to recycle and the space, equipment and time you have available. Remember that recycling of organic material is a natural process. When we make compost all we are doing is harnessing these natural processes - speeding them up and making them more organised and producing more useful end-products. Making compost is more to do with the process and correct ingredients than the container. A compost system may vary from a pile in a corner covered in a sheet of plastic to a purpose built plastic bin. Before deciding on what type of bin to have, consider the following:
Does your local authority have an offer on compost bins at the moment?
Many local authorities provide compost bins at a reduced price. There are many such schemes around the country. Check with your local council to find out what's going on in your area.
How much compostable waste will you produce?
Bearing in mind that a compost heap can take six to twelve months to mature, you may find that using a series of bins will make managing the compost easier and less messy. It can be very useful to have an additional bin to use when turning the compost. By using more than one bin, it avoids having compost at the bottom of the bin and un-composted material at the top, as each bin is left for nearly a year to compost.
Tips for Success
If it looks too dry, add more greens and sprinkle with water
If it looks too wet, and more browns like scrunched up paper and cardboard and give the heap a stir
Remember compost needs air to mature, so ensure your heap has good airflow. Use a garden fork to stir the heap when you add new material. When adding paper and cardboard, scrunch it up as this holds pockets of air inside the heap.
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