The thought of creating compost can be as daunting as perfecting a soufflé or crème brûlée. But in reality, it’s a much simpler recipe. In fact, think of it as a one-pot, slow-cook stew.
Even an informal chuck-everything-at-it kind of heap will eventually degrade your kitchen scraps and garden cuttings. After all, this natural process happens around us every day.
But if you want to speed it up and get compost to rival the peat bogs (without the environmental damage), invest in a black Dalek style bin - great for small gardens - or a wooden slatted box, which are easy to make out of pallets. You can even build mini ones for the kids.
Whatever you choose, always site them with their feet directly on the ground, so all those lovely microbes can work their way through the scraps. And choose the right ingredients.
While many of us like to think our hungry heaps are crying out for lawn trimmings and weeds, in fact, the perfect compost casserole needs a mix of nitrogen-rich ‘greens’ and carbon-heavy ‘browns’:
- Greens will come in the form of garden prunings of course, but kitchen peelings are also ideal.
- Browns include shredded paper, straw and cardboard such as torn up egg boxes.
- The chunky items allow two crucial natural ingredients to circulate - air and water, which helps with decomposition.
- Always avoid cooked foods, fats, dairy and meat as this attracts vermin.
- The idea is to get a lovely balance of the two. If you heap is too gooey: add more browns. Too dry: add more greens.
- If your hummus honks, you’ll need to fork through to let the air in. But otherwise, redworms (also known as brandling worms) will do all the hard work for you. All you need to do is provide weekly meal deliveries.
After 12 months, your compost will be ready to crumble. And it’s definitely worth the wait. Composting is the ultimate circular economy, transforming our waste into a glorious soil- conditioning, weed-suppressing, moisture-retaining ‘black gold’ that helps us grow more fresh food – for free!