Composting is simple, natural, fun and it can save you money!
Compost can happen anywhere in nature and is happening everyday…………. organic material such as leaves, grass and vegetable scraps are broken down by naturally occurring soil organisms to form a humus-rich compost.
In order for the composting process to take place you need air, moisture, organisms, GREEN materials and BROWN materials all of which Mother Nature provides us with.
GREEN materials = fresh, soft, moist materials such as grass and food scraps
BROWN materials = dry, hard materials such as leaves and woody materials
Composting is the single most effective way we can help the environment and put back in the earth what we take out.
Download our Guide to Household Composting
How to Begin…
* Choose a spot with easy access to your kitchen and available water.
* Place the bin on soil or grass in partial shade.
* Collect as many GREEN and BROWN materials as you can to start your compost.
* Place approximately equal amounts of GREENS and BROWNS in your compost bin, in alternate layers.
* Add some soil and then mix the materials.
* Soak with water to create uniform dampness.
* Close the bin securely and then let nature take it away!
To make rich compost you need a good mix of GREENS and BROWNS.
The soft GREEN material is rich in nitrogen and gets the process started and the tougher BROWN material is rich in carbon which gives body to the compost.
How to use your Home Composter?
When your compost is ready it should be brown and crumbly. There may be some small pieces of twigs or eggshells left but the worms in the soil will decompose these. You can use your compost in a number of different ways:
* In early spring or late autumn you can dig it into the soil to improve the soil structure.
* Compost can be spread over soil as mulch to prevent weeds and to release nutrients into the soil. Sprinkle it on soil when it is warm and wet for maximum effect!
* Compost can be used in potting, but the compost must be put through a sieve to allow the fine soil to be separated from the coarse soil, you can then mix the compost with equal amounts of garden soil and sand for the perfect potting compost.
* To make rich liquid food for hanging baskets and houseplants, half fill a bucket with compost,fill the bucket up with water, stir well and leave it to settle. The compost will dissolve in the water leaving a nutrient-rich food for your plants.
* If you have too much compost you can store it in bags until you need it.
* Compost can be used when planting trees or shrubs by mixing a bucketful of compost with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole.
* Apply compost to the base of trees and plants; this reduces water requirements and protects the plants from freezing.
* Add it to clay soil to make it lighter to work and to give it better aeration. Add it to sandy soil to hold the particles together keeping in essential moisture.
* Don’t leave food scraps on top of your pile, it will only attract flies; instead put a layer of leaves or soil on top of the scraps.
* Rats are unlikely to be attracted to the composter but should they appear, stop adding food to your pile and invest in some animal repellent.
* To keep odour away ensure that you keep a good mixture of GREENS and BROWNS. If odour does occur add extra BROWN material to your pile.
* A good tip for dedicated gardeners is to locate the bin where you want to plant next year, once you remove the bin after 6-12 months you are left with nutrient-rich soil that is ready for planting.
* To help the process along ensure that the pile remains moist to allow the organisms to do their job, the pile should be as wet as a squeezed-out sponge.
* If your pile gets too hot, reduce the heat by adding woody material and cold water – but don’t make it too soggy.
* To save yourself time and effort in the garden leave your grass mowings on the lawn. When clippings are allowed to decompose naturally they act as a nitrogen-rich fertiliser, a mulch and encourage worm aeration.
For further information on composting and waste minimisation contact:
Environment Awareness Officer,
Environment Section ,
Laois County Council ,
Áras an Chontae,
Phone : (057) 864000
Why Home Compost?
* About one third of household waste is kitchen and garden waste that can be composted.
* Composting is an easy and effective way of diverting this waste from landfill and putting it to use.
* Making your own compost also saves money as you don’t have to buy compost and as it is nutrient-rich there is no need to buy fertiliser either.
* Compost prevents soil erosion and improves yields on plants and vegetables.
* Compost builds sound root systems in soils and can extend the growing season.
* Home composting avoids unnecessary transport costs and exhaust fumes to the environment