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Environmental Issues
And
Going Green

By Alan J Hartley

Making Your Own Compost

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Most of us have council green waste re-cycling bins, but why let the council benefit and have all the fun of turning your garden waste into valuable compost. It is quite simple to build a compost bin in an unused corner of your garden and if looked after it wonít smell one little bit. All you need is a few dozen house bricks stacked Lego fashion into a square with a small gap between each brick to let the air in. If you are careful their own weight will hold them in place as it does not need to be very high, 18 inches or so should be plenty. As you add to the heap you can add a few more bricks until the heap starts to sink as it rots and then you can just as easily remove them to get at it. Obviously grass cuttings can be added to the heap, but donít just pile layer after layer of cuttings on to it because they will not rot properly and they will smell. In between each layer of grass put a layer of something else such as leaves that will be available in the Autumn. Even a thin layer of poor soil from the garden will help. 

Weeds can go on to be composted, but do not add Twitch, Brambles, Dandelions or other perennial weeds because they are very difficult to rot properly. If you have a garden shredder all of the shrub prunings in the Autumn can be shredded and added. Of course you could use these as mulch in your garden anyway to suppress the weeds. 

When you remove all of your old bedding plants from your borders in the Autumn they can be roughly broken up with your hands and added as well. 

Another type of waste that can be added to good benefit is shredded paper if you have a paper shredder for your bank statements etc. Torn up newspapers can also be included, but not in thick layers or they will not rot very quickly. Do not be tempted to add leftovers from meals or old bones because they will smell, attract rats and will not rot very well. Vegetable trimmings from when you are preparing potatoes, carrots and the like are fine though. A bag of horse manure added to your compost heap will work wonders with it. A sprinkle of garden lime over a fresh layer occasionally will benefit the compost heap, especially if grass cuttings are frequently added. Prevent the heap from getting too dry by giving it a can full of water regularly in any dry spells and turn it occassionally. This will encourage the worms and bacteria to get busy as they like moist conditions. The secret of making a good compost heap is to add many different types of material in thin layers and give it at least one year to rot. After that time dig into it and examine it to see if it is nice and crumbly. If not leave it a little longer to rot but if you have treated it well you should have some very good compost for use in your garden to enrich the borders. You may find the odd twiggy bit that has not rotted, but this can either be discarded in your bin or put onto next years heap.    

 

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