If you want your garden to be healthy so all of your plants thrive, it’s important that you use the right compost. Any good garden centre will sell all sorts of different compost blends designed for different plants and vegetables but if you really want your garden to do well, you should consider making your own.
There are a lot of great benefits to making your own compost because you have complete control over the balance of nutrients and minerals, so you can tailor it to the plants that you want to grow. You can also use a lot of old food scraps and garden waste that would normally go into landfill, so it’s a good way to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. However, making your own compost is a lot harder than people realize and if you get it wrong, you may do more harm than good and your plants could end up dying off. If you want to make your own compost, follow these tips to make sure that you get it right.
Get The Balance Of Ingredients Right
A lot of people think that making compost is as simple as throwing a load of old food waste and garden waste into a pile, but there’s more to it than that. You need to make sure that you get the balance right so the end result is just right for growing plants, which is why you should pay close attention to the ingredients that you use. All of the ingredients that you put into your compost can be split into two categories; green materials that contain lots of nitrogen and brown materials that contain a lot of carbon. Brown material is anything that is dry and fibrous, like dead leaves, hedge trimmings and wood shavings. Green material is anything that is wet, like old food scraps, grass trimmings, eggshells and manure. Teabags and coffee grounds are also great green compost materials because they contain high levels of nitrogen. It’s important that you get the balance between green and brown compost materials right if you want healthy soil.
If you have too much brown material, your compost will take a long time to break down and it won’t be ready in time for planting. On the other hand, too much green material will make your compost slimy and smelly and it won’t break down properly. On average, you should be using around 30 parts brown material to 1 part green material.
Use A Worm Farm
One of the most effective ways to get good compost is to use a worm farm. You can get some brilliant Maze worm farms that will create good quality compost in a much shorter time than a standard composter. This is because worms eat and process all of the material that you put into your compost and turn it into beneficial nutrients. They also help to move and aerate the compost, which makes it break down faster and improve the overall health of the compost.
When using a worm farm, it’s important that you cut up your waste into smaller pieces so it is easier for the worms to eat. You should also add material slowly so the worms have time to eat it all before more is added. If you notice that the worms are not eating the material that you have already added, give them a break for a few days before adding any more. Although worms eat a varied diet, certain items, like onions and garlic, should be cooked first and it’s best to avoid citrus peel altogether.
A worm farm is perfect for making small amounts of compost, but it is not always the best option for larger quantities and you should still use a traditional compost heap at the same time.
Check The Moisture Levels
Moisture is very important when making compost because too much or too little moisture can affect the way that your compost breaks down. The way to test your moisture levels is to pick up some compost and squeeze it. If water comes out, then it is too wet and you need to think about how you store your compost. However, it should feel a little damp so if it is completely dry, you need to add more moisture. If it is raining quite often, you should cover the compost heap with some tarp so you can control the amount of moisture that gets in. During a dry spell, you may need to add a bit of extra water to make sure that the compost is moist enough.
Use A Compost Activator
It’s a lot easier to get your compost going if you use an activating ingredient that helps it to break down faster. There are plenty of nitrogen-rich ingredients that boost the nutrient levels of the compost and encourage your material to start breaking down. Many people use bone meal and blood meal but you can even use high protein dog food as an activating ingredient. However, the best product to use is usually Alfalfa Meal. This organic fertilizer is made from the Alfalfa plant and it’s great for boosting soil health in the garden as well as encouraging your compost pile to break down. You can find any of these compost activators at a garden center or buy them online.
Use More Than One Pile
In some cases, using a compost tumbler is best because it allows you to turn the compost faster and you usually get the finished product in a shorter space of time. However, they can be expensive and if you are making large quantities, using a simple pile or a standard compost bin is best. But one of the biggest mistakes that people make is putting all of their material on one pile. Smaller piles tend to break down more efficiently and if you keep adding to one large pile, you risk an imbalance of brown and green materials. If you find that you are adding new material much faster than it is able to break down, it’s best to start a second pile.
These simple tips and tricks should help you to create the perfect compost and, once you start using it, you will notice a huge difference in the health of your plants.