Good compost is magical stuff.– Alys Fowler
When you start to grow your own vegetables, a compost bin becomes essential. But where do you start? Should you buy something expensive, or make one from the stuff you’ve got lying around? Here’s my quick guide.
1. Pick your spot.
If you can, make sure your compost bin will get lots of sun and rain. You’ll need easy access to it so that you can turn it from time to time. And it should be near your veg patch so that you can use your lovely compost when you need it.
It’s also important to put your bin directly on the soil so that it can drain and worms can help it along. If you can’t do this, for example if you have a courtyard or patio, put a layer of soil from your garden in the bottom before you add anything else.
2. Don’t bother with fancy materials. This is a bin for your rotten vegetables.
We decided to make our compost bin out of old pallets. They’re easy to source from companies that no longer need them. They’re a free, natural, waste material and we thought we should upcycle them. Yay!
Don’t use chemically-treated pallets. We looked for the HT stamp, which shows that our pallets are heat-treated and safe to use. Here’s a guide to using pallets.
3. Get help if you can.
Everything’s better with friends. Here’s one of our helpers, hard at work.
4. Saw one of your pallets in half, and double-up on hinges so that you can make two doors.
You’ll want to be able to access your lovely compost from the bottom, while the top of your heap is still mulching down.
5. Start making your compost!
Here’s what you can add:
- Food scraps, including:
- Vegetable peelings
- Coffee grounds and tea leaves
- Crushed egg shells
- Autumn leaves
- Plant prunings
- Grass clippings (but not too much!)
- Plain cardboard and paper (torn up or shredded)
- Ash from your fire
- Sawdust and fine, untreated wood scraps
- Well-rotted wood
What not to add:
- Invasive weeds (bramble, ivy, bindweed, dandelion)
- Bulbs e.g. bluebells, daffodils
- Meat, bones and dairy foods
- Diseased plant matter
- Treated wood
- Lots of woody plants (sage, rosemary, rose etc.)
Have you tried growing your own vegetables, upcycling pallets or making compost? Let me know!