How to Make a Compost Pile & What to Compost

It’s pretty basic really, make a pile of mixed up organic (in the it was once alive sense of the word) items. You can use a commercial compost bin or compost tumbler, a homemade compost box of old wood scraps or chicken-wire, or even just make a big pile of compost in a corner of the yard. The important bit is what goes into your compost pile not how expensive it was to construct.

What Can I Compost?

Nature is already showing us what we can compost. In its most basic sense anything that was once alive will break down into organic components. So if an item is comprised of 100% natural materials it can be composted. So your goal when composting should be if something was once alive it can be added to my compost pile to prevent its goodness being wasted. Anything once alive will add goodness to your garden when it has been composted.

Now we all have preconceived notions of what can be added to the compost pile and need to work with these. If there is something on the list you do not already compost try adding it. You’ll reduce your household waste and increase your compost heap.

* Compost your garden prunings, lawn clippings and weeds. Just make sure the prunings are shredded or broken up into small pieces and lawn clippings are mixed throughout the compost heap. Prolific weeds may be soaked in a bucket of water for a few weeks so they turn into mush which definitely won’t survive the heat of your compost pile. Seriously diseased plants such as brassicas infected with clubroot may be burnt first and the ashes added to the plot to prevent the clubroot disease reinfecting your soil later on.

* Compost your vegetable peelings. All your vegetable waste from the kitchen can go straight onto your compost pile.

* Compost your paper and cardboard. All your uncoated paper and card should be shredded / ripped up and added to the compost heap. Don’t forget to remove plastic windows from envelopes and plastic tape from cardboard packaging. Laminated papers and cards cannot be added as they’ll leave a plastic film which won’t break down so keep an eye on what kind of paper and card products you purchase.

* Compost your kitchen scraps even meat and fish. Meat and fish was once alive so will compost down into lovely goodness for your soil too. Just ensure your compost pile is pet proof and put these items deep into the pile, not just left on top for the local wildlife to feast on! Raw or cooked kitchen scraps will break down but if there is any issue with dogs trying to break into your heap cooked bones may be a problem as they are brittle and could be dangerous if swallowed.

* Compost dog waste. Again make sure the composting dog poop is always buried within the compost heap and it will break down fine. Poo (manure) is full of bacteria who love to break down organic items. Introducing manure to your compost pile will bring in these useful bacteria to help speed up the composting process.

* Compost manure. If you have other livestock or access to farmyard manure the addition of small quantities throughout the compost heap will heat things up and speed things along. Commercial organic compost activators are often primarily dried manure.

* Compost urine. This is probably best left to the boys. Urine is full of nutrients which will help activate your compost pile. Asking a gentleman to occasionally wee on the compost pile will do nothing but good.

* Compost human manure. It’s no different to any other manure and can be composted very successfully. So if you have space for a dry composting toilet you can reduce your water usage and improve your compost creation in one step.

* Compost wood ash and sawdust. Wood ash from a wood burning fire is excellent added to the heap providing potash and other nutrients. Sawdust added in small quantities through the pile will improve bulk but may slow down the composting action if added too liberally.

* Compost pet or livestock bedding. Whether it be bedding from a gerbil cage or the contents of a hen coop, these natural materials (straw / hay / sawdust etc) will be covered in animal manure and urine and therefore fantastic additions to the compost heap. N.B. most commercial cat litters are not natural and thus not suitable for the compost heap – make sure you read the packet to see if the product is natural and was ‘once alive’.

* Other natural fibers. So old woolen sweaters, cotton socks, hair (if you cut your own) or pet fur (if you trim theirs) will break down too. Don’t forget to check for synthetic additions to clothing including buttons, zippers or just man-made fibers such as lycra.

Remember! Anything which was once alive, will break down into compost.

How to Compost

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