A compost heap has many benefits
• recycle waste
• produce a useful and valuable resource
• improve the soil structure
• encourage good plant growth
Recycling has become important recently. What can you do to help? Many schools have grass clippings, waste garden material and pre-meal vegetable waste. So what happens to it? It is probably all thrown into the local landfill. you can make use of this free resource. It will turn into wonderful compost - the perfect plant food and soil improver.A compost heap is easy to start and maintain.
How do we make compost?
A variety of compost containers
You can make compost in a heap on the ground or you may prefer a container.
For further information see:
• Building a compost box - HDRA factsheet
• Buying a compost bin - HDRA factsheet
• Composting - HDRA Step-by-step booklet
Find a spot in your garden for your container or heap. This should be on grass or bare soil, not concrete or tarmac. Liquid is released during the composting process and needs to soak away.
Remember - Gloves should be worn at all times when handling any waste materials. Wash your hands with hot soapy water and rinse well under running water when you have finished.
You can start to fill your container or build your heap at any time of the year. Make sure that you have a good mix of tough stuff (such as woody prunings, paper and straw) and soft stuff (such as grass and kitchen waste). Aim for about one third tough stuff to two-thirds soft stuff. Don't worry if you can't fill the bin all at once. Just keep adding material until it is full. Don't worry if it doesn't get hot. Heaps built slowly don't heat up, but they still produce good compost. The composting process is likely to take some months so don't expect compost in a few weeks. What can I compost? Find out here
Add the composting material as it becomes available. Keep the top covered to keep moisture in, but excessive rain out.Congratulations - You've got your own garden compost, ready to use whenever needed.
After several months, the bottom layers of the heap should look like rich dark soil and will smell sweet.
When you rake out the ready compost, if you find any solid lumps, put them back onto the heap or into the bin to start the next batch.
If the heap is very wet and smelly, you've not added enough dry stuff. get hay or straw, or even scrumpled paper. Mix the wet smelly stuff with the dry stuff. Heap it all up again and leave it for a few weeksDon't worry if you have a lot of persistent weeds like bindweed, these can be used too. Collect them up and place them in a black bin liner and tie the top. Wait until they have turned into sludge and then add to your compost bin. What can we find out? Whilst creating and maintaining a compost heap there are a number of investigations that you can carry out.
• Why not build your own compost box? For the instructions see Building a compost box - HDRA factsheet. • Find out which materials compost and which don't. • Create a compost heap. • Investigate what happens to the temperature of the compost as the materials rot. • Find out how quickly different materials decompose (rot). • Which creatures can you find in and around the compost heap? • Find out about the work of micro-organisms in the compost heap.
Click here if you need help with any of the investigations.
or telephone us on (024) 7630 8238
Health and safety issues
- Keep cuts and any broken skin covered
- After handling any compost or waste materials wash hands well with soap and running water.
- Keep people with breathing or immune deficiency problems away from the compost heap when it is being turned. Fungal spores are released which may cause a reaction in susceptible people.
- Keep anti-tetanus protection up-to-date.
- Limit contents of the compost heap to materials of plant origin only.
- Use manure from vegetarian pets (rabbits, guinea pigs) only. Avoid cat and dog manure. They can contain pathogens that are harmful to humans.
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