There are one or two tips to bear in mind if you want to make really good compost.
The first is to be clear why you want to commit to making compost. Because commitment it is. An unturned compost heap will produce a rotting, stinking slimy result, unlike a regularly turned heap that will produce a dry, earthy smelling crumble crumb. If you want to get the best from your compost it will ideally be turned once a week, however, once a month will do but you will have to wait longer for the end result. Turning the heap has two essential benefits; it mixes together the various materials and at the same time introduces fresh air for the bugs, microbes and worms that are busy making your compost for you. November is a great month for turning compost: it’s cold outside and turning a compost heap will warm you up and provide a good work-out. My motivation for making compost is based on the simple principle of saving money and making my own soil improver, worm encourager and plant feeder. I prefer not to let my compostable material be carried off in a lorry to be industrially composted or worse buried in landfill. I also like to know that my compost is comprised mainly of waste that was grown on the same plot from whence it came. Not a blade of grass, non-invasive weed, rhubarb leaf or parsnip top leaves the allotment.
The second tip is to not throw any old garden related waste onto the compost heap. You will need to ensure the right combination of products is used. So, what makes ideal ingredients for the compost heap? Dry, hard materials such as wood chips, cardboard loo roll and kitchen roll centres, fallen leaves, egg shells, fire ash and waste paper. Mix these up with fresh, soft, moist materials such as grass cuttings, raw veg food scraps, tea bags, coffee grinds and plant material. Avoid meat, cooked food and hard/woody materials such as twigs, branches or stalks.
So, if you have decided to take the plunge and get into compost production you will need to decide what method to use. A pile of garden waste will eventually turn to compost but the process will be more efficient and effective if you use containers and use more than one. The 3-bin system is the ideal: one containing new ingredients, the second containing well turned/mixed ingredients and the third containing the finished product ready for spreading onto the garden or veg plot. There are many types of compost bins or containers available if you wish to buy a readymade option. For more information try looking in the gardening section of Cirencester library or visit the following web sites. The Community Composting Network, www.othas.org.uk/ccn; The Composting Association, www.compost.org.uk; Green Books, www.greenbooks.co.uk; The Organic Organisation, www.hdra.org.uk.