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You might think that home composting in a small garden wouldn’t be possible. I’ve composted as long as we have had this garden and managed to get enough to mulch my plants in the early spring each year.
Heap or Bin?
I’ve always used one of the “tardis” varieties of compost bin. This works well in our small garden because it’s compact and keeps everything quite tidy. Our bin sits straight on the soil and is in the part of the garden that gets afternoon sun. Remember you won’t want your compost bin too close to where you might be sitting or eating. This is because they can sometimes give off a bit of a whiff, and sometimes have the odd fly buzzing around.
Things to Add to the Home Composting Bin
We use a kitchen caddy to collect scraps. It has a lid which keeps fruit flies from getting in, and subsequently smells getting out. Even though there’s only two of us in the house, we fill this up a few times a week. Things we often end up putting in our compost include:
- Fruit cores/peels – I tend to limit the amount of citrus peel I put in as I don’t want the compost to become too acidic.
- Vegetable peelings – raw, not cooked as this could attract vermin.
- Egg shells – crushed is better.
- Plain, uncoloured paper bags.
- The odd toilet roll inner tube.
- Kitchen roll.
- Grass clippings.
I find it easy to find enough “green” material to go in the bin; scraps, peelings and grass. I often have to make a conscious effort to add more “brown” matter in. I tend to rip this up into smaller pieces so it can mix in and break down well.
Things NOT to Add to the Home Composting Bin
There are some things that you don’t want to add to your compost bin. Some things could attract pests or end up making your compost more of a hindrance than a help! These include:
- Meat/fish/dairy – these could attract vermin.
- Weed roots or seeds – even when I add weed leaves to the compost I always let them dry out first, you may want to omit weeds altogether.
- Chemicals – there is no need to add anything artificial to the compost, the natural bacteria will do all the work.
- An abundance of fruit/veg seeds – my mum sowed some salad seeds into her home made compost. When I looked at them I could see they were a squash of some kind. Perhaps a rogue butternut squash or melon seed had held on in the compost heap and germinated once she’d brought it out and used it!
Whilst these materials would break down in industrial composters, home composting just won’t cut it.
Maintaining the Compost
I turn the compost every few weeks to keep the mixture breaking down and spread out evenly. I use a garden fork and just try to mix it round as best I can in the bin. Don’t worry if there are no worms in there because most of the work is done by bacteria breaking the material down. Once you use the compost on your garden, the worms will have a lovely time working it into the soil.
We tend to put one food waste bag out each week for our bin collection, and that’s often only a quarter full. Perhaps it helps that I’m vegan and my husband is a “meat reducer”, so most of our food waste is compostable. We tend to fill it up over summer and then let it do it’s thing over winter. We’re then rewarded with lovely, dark, crumbly compost come spring.
Not Convinced Yet?
Home composting is an eco-friendly way of adding goodness into your garden. You know exactly what goes into it and you’ll save a bit of money on buying shop bought compost; at the same time as reducing waste. You can then use your free compost to enrich your garden soil or spread onto the tops of containers to give them a feed.