The make your own compost thread
I'm a keen composter, I know a bit, I don't know it all, I just think it's important (as gardeners) to do it.
It would be good to talk about it here and encourage you (composters) and those who need converting to chat about it. Let me/us convince you that you can make your own, if you do make your own then talk about how you do it and why.
Home composting problems? Post them up!
Am I a compost expert? Absolutely not. I got into gardening for all the right reasons and found that those same ethics applied to DIY compost too so have been having a go for a few years now with great success.
If you put your garden waste into the Council bin to be taken away they charge you for it (either separately or it's already included). They then sell it onto compost makers. They make it into compost and sell it back to you.
So you're paying for it twice, they're making mugs of you.
Particularly as when you get it back it's often terrible! It can even have traces of weedkiller in it which will effect your plants.
Advantages of making your own:
Less toll on the planet: You aren't buying plastic bags. The bin wagon isn't stopping at your house, the ingredients you need and use aren't being driven around the country before being sold back to you.
You'll be sure there is no weedkiller in the mix.
You are in charge of the time, method and ingredients so make it to suit whatever final use it has. Potting compost, general use or whatever.
Some weed and grass roots and seeds can survive, but it's not a huge issue and bought compost often has them in anyhow.
It takes time, a little space and you'll need to put a bit of physical effort into turning it over now and again. The latter can be an advantage of course...
I don't have the space. Unless you've got nothing but a window box or a balcony you do. A compost bin or heap is part of a working garden, it's like a raised bed, a path, a flower bed. It has it's place somewhere.
It's too wet/cold. Wrong. If it's too wet then cover it over and no, it never gets too cold for compost. I can show you a Youtube clip of a guy getting a hot shower in the snow. The water was heated by his compost heap. I make successful compost up here on the Pennines.
I don't like the look of it. Buy a compost bin and paint some flowers on it, hide it. Heck, make it into a Dalek or whatever.
You could even create a composter in the ground. Yes really! Dig a hole, put the ingredients in, soil back over the top and walk away. In maybe 3 months uncover it and turn it over before leaving it another 3 months. Then dig it up, if it's ready then use it.
Types of composters:
As per above, a simple hole in the ground could do. That aside:
Some pallets used to form a square is cheap and simple (pallets are often free if you have a car big enough or can carry them home). Simply screw them together at the corners with some cheap angle brackets and/or tie a rope or strap around them.
The common 'compost dalek' or simple bin is cheap, or often even free.
Rotating composter. If it's in within your budget then theses are great and available in many different sizes.
Hot composter. We're getting into expensive and pro territory here...
Bokashi Bin. I have no experience of these, but if you have a small output of waste and a small space they may just suit you.
If you don't want to buy new, then buy used or for free, Facebook marketplace and Freecycle are just two places which are good for this.
You need somewhere around equal amounts of 'brown' & 'Green' waste.
All kitchen veg scraps, nothing else (no meat, dairy etc) are green.
All your waste cardboard and paper are brown. Throw it in whole, unless it's a book or too big to go in there is no need to shred. In fact, the more air pockets in there the better. If your cardboard has tape on it then either pull it off or put it in as it is, the cardboard will rot away and you can pull the tape out of the compost later. I tip our whole wastepaper bins in the compost, it's better for the environment and it's better for security, no-one can read our personal details.
Lawn clippings are green
Leaves, twigs and chipped twigs, bark etc are brown.
Tea leaves, coffee grounds can go in too. I've found T bags don't rot down so well, so tear them open and just compost the tea leaves.
You can put eggshells in, but i'm not a fan as they don't break down. Same goes for Avocado and peach/plum stones
Manure and bedding from horses, cows, alpacas, chickens, rabbits. Basically anything which eats grass and green stuff.
Used, old and tired compost.
Old plants from the garden.
Weeds? Leaves and stalks will go straight in. Personally I would dry out any roots or seed pods (or just the whole lot) and burn them in Winter. If you don't have a chipping or mulching machine then burn dried tough stuff too. Put all the ash into your compost.
Unless it's a rotating composter the basics of it are pile it all in, leave it a month or two and adjust the water content by putting a cover or the lid over to regulate the rain, sun and wind. It needs to be damp or wet. Not dry or dripping/soaking wet.
After that time it needs turning. Everything at the top and the sides needs to go to the bottom or the centre and vice-versa.
If your heap is big enough (1m cube or more) then you can keep an eye on the core temps to tell you what is going on. Mine goes up to 65c then drops off. When it's got down to about 30 in Winter I know it's time to turn it and it'll heat up again. When it stops heating up much after being turned it's about ready. Once it's cooled the compost worms will move in and do their bit.
There are a lot of claims of compost being produced in 6 weeks which I don't really believe or think it's possibly not great compost. Personally I would say it takes about 6 months, but it does depend on conditions, type of composter, ingredients etc.
Once it's complete it should smell earthy and resemble soil.
They are the very brief basics of composting and it's amazing (if not a little sad) how often the modern gardener doesn't do it anymore.
If you don't then have a go, it's really quite satisfying, has many positives and no negatives. There are loads of guides online and in books on how to do it.
Do your bit for the environment, make your own compost.