Here are some of the proven tips on creating good compost:
– Make the size of the container as large as you can: 1 sq m/3 sq ft is the minimum practical size. If your garden is very small, purpose-built compost bins are available.
– Use good insulating materials for the container to help maintain the heat in the heap. Line the base of the container with a 15-cm/6-in layer of coarse material like straw or tough stalks or use wire mesh laid over widely spaced bricks to allow air to circulate.
– Add about 20cm/8in of fresh mixed material to the container at any one time. The easiest way of doing this is to place waste materials first into a black dustbin liner, mix up, then add the contents when full. By adding a mixture of materials, the heap remains well aerated and doesn’t pack down.
– Include any fresh or cooked plant or vegetable waste from the house or garden, including lawn mowings. Slightly woody stems will need shredding or chopping.
– Do not include animal waste which may attract vermin, woody material such as hedge clippings or rose prunings which will take a long time to break down, any diseased or infected plant material, weeds that have gone to seed or roots of perennial weeds like ground elder, couch grass or creeping buttercup.
– The bacteria which act to decompose the material put on the heap need air, moisture and nitrogen. The water is mainly obtained from the leaves put on the heap but you should water dry materials like straw before adding them.
– Including animal manure in the heap will help to provide nitrogen, as will seaweed or seaweed extract or a proprietary compost activator.
– Adding lime helps to neutralize the natural acidity. The bacteria prefer a less acid environment so this will also help to speed up decomposition.
– Compost needs to be covered to keep the heat in and to prevent the material becoming too wet. An old piece of carpet or black plastic is suitable.
– In summer a heap should he ready for use in about three months, in winter it will take more like nine months.