Compost 101

Compost: how to start right now

Photo by Jill Mead

Photo by Jill Mead

Good compost takes work, but the joy of it is unending. Equally unending are the rules governing the making of it, most of which you can ignore in favour of following your intuition, once you know that you need to create enough heat inside the heap to break down all the stuff into crumbly goodness.

To get heat, you need microbial activity, so in the end, it’s all about creating the best feast for these invisible guests. Once things heat up, then other microorganisms, along with worms come in and eat the decomposing matter, and poo out the finished product.

Containers are manifold, each with their own merits, but a couple of simple wooden bays with removable slats at the front, or something homemade like the one I made from palettes (above) along with a cover, will work fine.

Balancing your nitrogen-rich greens (soft plant material and raw veg scraps) and carbon-rich browns (bits of cardboard, coffee-grounds and snipped-up woody material) is key. Cut things up small (smaller than you think you need to), and add them to your heap in thin layers, so that there’s never too much of one thing. No cooked food, or raw meat or fish - it’ll attract rats and foxes, and absolutely no perennial weeds, ever.  After this, just follow your gut - If things seem too dry, add water; if they’re too wet, add in dry stuff. With a little patience, and a healthy dose of obsessiveness, black gold will be yours.

x Laetitia