How to make your own compost at home – 7 easy tips

Monty Don follows hedgehog along his garden path

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Composting is an ideal way to put your kitchen scraps and lawn cuttings to use while creating a nutrient-rich material for your soil. While you can buy ready-made compost at most garden centres, making your own is relatively easy – so read on for tips on how best to make your own compost.

How to make your own compost at home

1. Know what you can use

When composting, the most important part is to know what to include in your container/bin/bucket.

Items like fruit scraps, coffee grounds and dry leaves are ideal for your compost bin.

While anything oily, dog or cat mess and dairy products should not be added!

Read More: How far apart should you plant lettuce? A simple growing guide

You can add

  • Fruit scraps
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Grass and plant clippings
  • Dry leaves
  • Finely chopped wood and bark chips
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Straw
  • Sawdust from untreated wood

Don’t compost any of the following

  • Anything containing meat, oil, fat, or grease
  • Diseased plant materials
  • Sawdust or chips from pressure-treated wood
  • Dog or cat faeces
  • Weeds that go to seed
  • Dairy products

2. Start out with a chunk of materials

When getting started, try and get together a chunk of materials, enough to make a layer of about 30cm in depth.

This can be food waste, lawn clippings, weeds or any other items on the good to add list above.

3. Make sure there are chunkier materials for air bubbles

While adding, try and mix up the materials to allow for air.

Items like straw, woody prunings and scrunched up cardboard packaging help create air pockets in your compost.

Air pockets are important for circulation and drainage.

4. Fill up as you go!

Slowly but surely add to your compost over time.

Continue to fill the container as and when you have ingredients.

5. Make sure to add cardboard or paper for balance

Should you find you’re adding a lot of kitchen scraps, try and add in some cardboard or paper for balance.

This can be egg boxes, household paper, toilet rolls, cereal packets etc.

6. Be patient and allow to compost

After a while, you can either judge when you think your container is full or just decide to stop adding.

Then leave the mixture to compost – a process which may take a year or so.

7. When to use

The lower levels of the compost will be ready first, so depending on your container remove the upper non-composted layers to reach the compost.

You can then use this compost on the garden, and add the non-composted layers back into the container.

Mix everything else together well, and make a judgement on whether you need to add anything extra.

If you find the mixture is dried out – which hot weather can cause – add water.

You can also mix in dry material like cardboard or paper if is too wet, then leave to compost once more.

Repeat this process when you need compost next, adding more material as you go.

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