How to Have a Useful Compost Heap
Lots of people wonder why their compost heap doesn’t do much or worse still turns to a pile of evil smelling slime. Usually this is due to a lack of stuff , or a lack of variety of stuff ending up on the compost heap.
We need to add as much to our compost heaps as possible. It means we get more benefit from a bigger heap of finished compost. We also save time and money as we’re not sending so much stuff to landfill. It’s our own waste so why not sort it out ourselves?
Nature shows us what we can compost. Anything that was alive once will be broken down into its organic components by nature. So anything you have which is 100% natural could and should go on your compost heap.
This list shows you many of the things you could be composting. Whatever you do add to your compost heap make sure it is varied, layered and shredded.
What About Pests and Smells?
Some hints for the health & safety bods. Bury new additions within the compost heap so there is never a cooked dinner and a pile of dog poo left on top. In fact bury anything interesting to children, pets, birds, mice etc. Always bury it in a little hole in the heap. That way there is never anything apart from vegetation on the surface of the heap so nobody should be overly interested in investigating it.
Wash your hands after dealing at all with your compost heap. Make sure the heap is sited so no run-off from the heap could drain towards people or animals.
An old piece of carpet on top will help deter flies who will come even if you were just trying to compost lawn clippings!
If you have pets it seems sensible to make the heap pet proof too. We took these measures before we composted anything exceptional as our dogs and cat are nosy and I didn”t really want them coming into the house covered in half rotted lawn clippings.
When Will the Compost be Ready?
If you’ve added any kind of manure leave the heap for at least a year before putting it onto your soil. If the heap is working well all pathogens contained in the manure will have been long gone in around three months but its easier to wait longer and not have to worry! Waiting so long also means any veterinary residues are long gone from the farmyard manure.
The one way to ensure your compost works well, breaks things down safely and quickly AND isn’t a nasty smelly mess is to make sure you mix it up! I don’t mean literally but just make sure you create your heap in a mixed up way so layers of all different additions go on over time. Every addition should be as small as possible to give bacteria the biggest surface area to work on. Also the heap should be aerated so there are air gaps within it. If you put in one large slab of lawn clippings once a month for example it will compact into a slimy mess. Much better to add a smaller quantity of the grass every day so it gets layered with kitchen scrap and all the other goodies you’ll be adding!
And finally, all the lovely microbes, bacteria and other small wildlife working your heap do not want to drown or dry out! So act accordingly. If it never rains where you are add a bucket of washing up water daily. If it always rains with you put some protection over the heap!
For a more self sufficient future