With summer fast approaching, thoughts inevitably turn to the garden, whether it be dining out in it, preparing it by weeding and putting in bedding plants, or simply enjoying the fruits of all your previous hard work.
For many of us, preparing the garden will include a trip to our local nursery or B&Q for a bag of heavy compost, to make sure our newly bought plants have the best start in life. But have you ever thought about making your own compost? Anyone with a garden can do so, it costs nothing to set up apart from buying the compost bin and helps the environment by ensuring that organic matter is not sent to landfill sites. So how do you start and what should you put into one?
First select your bin. If you live alone, chances are you will not produce much to go into a bin, however, remember that you can continue to fill these bins for a number of months so I would always recommend getting a larger size than you would anticipate.
The council often have promotions on compost bins, in fact this is where I got one of mine, the other one I managed to buy cheaply from a recycling tip and yes I live alone and fill them both up frequently! Look out for leaflets coming
through your door from your local council advising you on special promotions on bins. Or visit recyclenow.com/compost. They will often deliver them or have a central place where you can purchase them and the cost is greatly subsidised.
My council compost bin is huge, it cost me £9 and is made from recycled plastic. Getcomposting.com is a great place to start looking for a subsidised bin as you can simply put in your post code and it will direct you to the nearest council that is offering a composting service.
If your council is not operating a subsidised service the next option is your local DIY branch such as Homebase or B&Q however bear in mind that supermarkets are also getting in on the act and may be a cheaper option. On sale at Homebase right now is the Keter Plastic Eco Composter for £29.99, at 25% off it holds 320 litres. I like the huge lid and lift up draw at the bottom of this model.
For the serious ‘posters’ out there, the Straight PLC Compost Tumbler from Tescos is exactly that, a composter that you can turn over, saving you the arduous chore of aerating your compost.
However, at £79 it is quite expensive and would have been worth the money if the size had been bigger, it’s only 200 litres.
Lastly, what to put in your bin. Any peelings from fruit and vegetables are fine, also teabags and coffee grinds, egg cartons and egg shells, shredded paper and cardboard, leaves and grass cuttings. Don’t put in cooked food, meat or fish, cat litter or bones or weeds.
Remember to aerate your mixture regularly, house the bin in a sunny site on bare soil and then just wait 9 to 12 months before you see a wonderful dark, peaty, crumbly mixture emerge.