Composting made easy!
Whatever your view of the “Green Agenda”, this week aspirational ideologies ran up against hard realities with the announcement that Bord na Mona has decided to stop harvesting peat from its bogs. This decision may have very serious implications for the Horticulture Industry, who has for decades, relied on a steady supply of peat as a growing medium for all the plants, shrubs and trees that are supplied through garden centres across the country. It will not be so easy for the industry to find a replacement growing medium. However, for the traditional and ever resourceful gardener, all is not lost. Now is a good time to set the task of producing your own compost!
I’m here to help you to make composting easy. Producing your own compost is a relatively uncomplicated process. It’s just a matter of having the right mix of materials and somewhere to put the materials for the 6-months or so it takes for them to turn into compost. You can buy a compost bin or alternatively you can build one out of pallets, or just have it as a heap in the field – like us!
What you need to make great Compost
Composting is a great way to recycle garden and household waste over time so that it breaks down to make a rich growing medium, provided that you have the right mix of materials. What is the right mix, I hear you ask? As a rule of thumb, you need about 60% Nitrogen and 40% Carbon.
Carbon rich materials are things like, newspapers, straw, cardboard, fallen leaves, wood shavings.
Nitrogen rich materials are things like, grass clippings, annual weeds, kitchen waste (vegetable peelings) herbaceous materials, like annual weeds, stems etc. I tend to leave out any meat from the kitchen waste so as not to attract any vermin to the compost heap.
Every time you put in grass clippings in the compost heap, it is important to put in something to counteract it, like cardboard and newspapers, otherwise you could end up with a sludging heap. Perennial weeds like bindweed, nettles etc. are also something I would leave out.
Taking care of your compost pile
The compost pile benefits from being turned over now and again. In doing so, air is incorporated into the compost pile enabling the waste to break down more quickly.
Try to make sure that the compost heap does not totally dry out. You can add water to it if you feel it’s starting to look a little dry. You can also cover it to retain the moisture. Ideally you should have your compost heap in a spot where it is sheltered and shady where the wind/sun won’t dry it out too quickly.
When it’s ready, your compost should have a crumbly texture, a dark brown colour and have a sweet smell. You can then use this to improve the soil in your flower beds and improve the overall condition of your soil.
If you’re looking for any advice on composting or other help with your gardening queries, don’t hesitate to call and see me at Rockbarton.
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Photo Credit: @markusspiske