pale leaf Gaia's Garden leaves




Composting - it's easy!
by Hannah Corr

What is composting?
Composting is the recycling of kitchen and garden waste to produce a soil like material that is rich in minerals and nutrients. It can then be put back into the earth to feed the soil and make the garden grow better. Any natural product such as fruit, vegetables, wood & wool will slowly rot and decompose over time and composting is a way of speeding the process up by using the right mixture of materials. It is made by a hundreds of different organisms, including bacteria, fungi, worms, and insects eating away at it over a period of time. Sounds gruesome but what remains after these organisms break down the organic materials, is the rich, earthy substance your garden will love. Composting is nature's natural way of breaking down materials, be it on the forest floor or in your compost bin.

Why compost?
There are lots of good reasons to compost -
It will dramatically reduce the size of the rubbish bag you leave out for the bin man each week
It reduces the amount of household waste being sent to landfill sites
Which in turn cuts down on pollution
It will stop your kitchen bin from smelling
You’ll have a constant supply of quality, healthy, chemical free fertiliser for your garden and plants. Give it to your friends if you don’t need it!
It will save you money by not having to fork out for fertilisers anymore
It helps protect our beautiful peat bogs. Many commercial composts are made from peat, which is naturally occurring and extremely rich in nutrients for plants and soil. However, peat bogs are thousands of years old and provide natural habitats that are even rarer than the tropical rainforest. As such peatbogs are considered a protected environment.

How to Compost
You can be as lazy or as active as you like. The more you manage your compost the faster you’ll produce compost ready to be used in the garden. If you take the passive approach where you slowly and steadily add waste to a pile you’ll still see results but they’re likely to be in a year or two. Either way, it ends up the same! Anything natural that will rot & decompose will compost. Grass, trees, vegetables, fruit peel, brown paper and even the dust in your hoover can go on the pile. The easiest and most common way is ‘cool composting’. First you need to get a compost bin or site set up in your garden. Find a nice sunny spot with plenty of heat and light and place your heap or bin on a patch of soil or concrete (preferably soil but concrete’s just as good - worms and insects will always manage to find it!). Start adding your compostables - it is best to use a mixture of ingredients to get a balance of dry & wet but don’t worry if this sounds daunting, it will come in time and with experience. Here’s a helpful outline -

Raw fruit & vegetable scraps, tea bags, old flowers, soft prunings, weeds, straw & hay
Egg boxes, cardboard, paper bags, kitchen roll & serviettes
HOT ROTTERS (these work to ‘activate’ the compost process and get it started)
Weeds, grass cuttings, comfrey leaves, nettles and urine (dilute 1:4)
SLOW ROTTERS (will decay over a long time)
Autumn leaves, wood chipping, woody prunings. Older and often therefore, tougher material takes longer to decay but gives the compost a good quality. Wood decays very slowly and is best chopped or shredded.
Cooked food, meat, poultry & fish (raw or cooked), dairy products, bread
Coal ash, dog poop, nappies, cat litter and glossy magazines

After about 6-9 months the bottom of your compost pile will have turned into a lovely rich soil like substance. Remove it from the compost bin and either bag it or use it in the garden straight away.

Have fun but beware - composting is addictive!

"Composting. It's Easy!" © H.Corr 2005 - Republished here with kind permission.


pale leaves

Gaia's Garden Library
Non Fiction Section : Gaia's Garden Herblore | Susun S. Weed Articles | Articles and Musings
Fiction Section : Short Stories & Prose| As Told By Cat | Public Domain Texts| Poetry

Shop | Library | Gallery | Forum | Contact | Links