Compost is lovely stuff!  It’s full of organic material, nutrients and it does wonders to the condition of your soil.  Just dig it in to your garden bed and watch it go to work aerating and improving the soils water holding and drainage qualities before your very eyes.  It is the perfect mulch, combating evaporation by helping your soil retain moisture whilst giving it a natural energy boost as it slowly becomes one with your garden.  With liberal use of this easily homemade product you can watch that barren, water resistant dirt turn into glorious, fertile, life giving soil that would make a nurseryman envious.

The End Product; Life Giving Compost
Credit: annavivanista

     The bonus is that compost is dead simple to make.  It can be as low budget as a heap in the back corner of the yard.  If the composting bug bites hard it can manifest into a fully automated compost tumbler or you can land anywhere in between, depending on how far you want to take it.  There is a myriad of different types of compost bins on the marketplace today.  Ultimately they all do the same thing, although the length of time it takes may vary.   Composting takes your household scraps, garden waste and most about any other organic matter and turns it into an extremely useful soil conditioner.  This has to be a far better option than bags of expensive chemical fertilisers. Especially for the home food garden with organic produce held in such high esteem today.

     There are a few things you need to know in order to maximise the efficiency of your compost heap.  Firstly you need a good mix of Green and Brown items for your heap to work well.  The ideal mix is about thirty parts Carbon to one part Nitrogen.  Green items refer to nitrogen rich substances such as lawn clippings for example.  Lawn clippings are easily accessible; we all have to mow our lawns at some stage.  Other green items include food and garden waste, hay and manures.  Brown items refer to Carbon rich materials such as leaves, fruit waste, wood ash, newspaper and cardboard.

A typical open heap, uncovered
Credit: sassy_frassy45

     Having a carbon heavy compost heap will slow down decomposition.  Where on the other hand a Nitrogen rich mix will result in a stinky heap, some prefer to load up on the greens and put up with the smell.  The excess nitrogen ensures the heap keeps working.

     Moisture is important to your compost, especially if you have a basic, open heap.  A cheap tarpaulin can be used to cover your pile and retain moisture.  Closed bins have the advantage of a lid which acts the same way as the tarp does on an open pile. Try to keep it just moist, too dry and decomposition will slow, too wet and you risk valuable nutrients washing away.

     Turning your heap regularly is another key factor to good composting.  By forking your organic matter over you help to aerate the pile and mix the different materials together to speed up the decay rate of your heap.  Excess water, which results in a lack of air, is detrimental to the micro organisms that live in your heap, eating their way through the waste and turning it into glorious compost.

Cone Style Compost Bin With Turning Tool

Your standard compost bin
Credit: vizamy

     That about covers the basics of composting, with a small outlay and just a bit of house and yard recycling you can be on your way to producing valuable organic matter.  Its addition to your garden beds will go a long way to improving the qualities of your soil and maximising the growth and production of your garden.  Green Thumbs up for that!