Composting for beginners

If you’re not aware of the benefits of composting yet, let us tell you it’s one of the best ways to reduce the impact of your food waste and it’s incredibly nutritious for your garden and allotment. Not to mention you could sell it to local gardeners can make some money from it. But you’ve got to do it right. This is why we’re here today, to introduce you to the world of composting. Composting for beginners and how to get it done right – the simple way. 

What is needed in your compost? 

Many may believe it’s common sense when it comes to composting, but you need a compost bin. Now, which type of compost bin is completely up to you and the space you have available. Compost bins are better for continuous composting whereas composting tumblers are better for batch composting. As compost bins are cheaper and more accessible, we’re going to focus on the continuous method of composting. 

A compost bin is very easy to use, you just pop your items in the top and collect compost from the bottom after a while. But it’s important to know what is needed in your compost. You can’t just be throwing anything in there and hoping for the best. You need a nitrogen and carbon ratio that works well for generating compost. What does this look like? 

The breakdown of your compost pile 

30% brown stuff, and 70% green. Your brown items are things like carboard, crunchy brown leaves, sawdust, twigs, branches and paper. Green items are fruit and vegetable waste/scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, grass clippings and flowers – not weeds as these will thrive in your compost pile! 

Notice how nowhere we have mentioned ‘compostable’ cups, cutlery or plates. That’s because they’re not great for home composting and will probably sit in your composter for at least a year before they transform. The same goes for tea bags – cut them open and compost the tea inside. 

Don’t put meat, dairy, fats, and oils, or eggs into your compost pile as this will attract rodents, leaving you with not a compost pile but a very dirty home for the rats to live in.  

Composting for beginners: How to start 

A compost bin is very easy to look after. All you need to do is feed it the right items and give it a bit of a stir before you pop the next lot in. But if you’re not regularly putting items in there, give it a mix at least once a week. 

Start by adding a layer of soil to your new compost bin. Then throw in whatever you have to compost which we mentioned above. Then throw some more soil on top. This layering process is the perfect way to get the right balance in your compost pile. Keep it in mind as you add items each week. 

Turning your compost pile 

Compost piles need to be turned and aerated in order to break down. Getting oxygen into the composter is only going to benefit your pile. If you don’t turn it, you’ll more than likely end up with a rotten pile of stuff that’s useful to nobody. 

If you’ve got a compost bin it might seem like a challenge to aerate it, but all you need is a pitchfork. Dig deep and give a good twist while you move everything around. There are also handheld aerators available if you have a smaller compost bin. 

Keeping your compost pile moist/damp 

Another key aspect of looking after your compost is to keep it moist. Now, this may not be an issue during the winter months, but in the summer, you want to be careful not to let it dry out. Use water from your water butt to keep the pile moist or recycle water from your home. Try not to use fresh water – there is plenty of wastewater in your home available such as pasta water. 

How to stop your compost pile from smelling 

One of the biggest factors that hinder composting for beginners is dealing with the smell. But the more you aerate your compost pile the less it smells. Also, adding too much green and not enough brown can also be a factor for foul-smelling compost piles. You can also add side vents to your compost pile but be sure to cover them up with rat-proof mesh to ensure the pesky rodents don’t get in. Another factor is dampness, a compost pile that is too dry can attribute to the bad smell.

You see, composting for beginners isn’t too difficult. The process is very simple but having this foundation of knowledge will transform your composting efforts from failure to success. It’s the little things that people forget to tell you about. It’s not all eco-warrior actions and saving the planet with composting, sometimes it’s as simple as safely disposing of waste and producing a useful product for the garden. 

One Response

  1. Thank you for sharing your tips and advice! We recently remodeled our backyard and just got new composite fencing installed around the perimeter of our yard. I really want to start a garden and I think composting would be a great idea for the garden, our home, and the planet. Your post has been so helpful, and I’m feeling so excited to get started!

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