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Be eco-friendly and save some money by learning how to make organic compost to use as fertiliser in the garden. Whether your a compost queen or you’ve never had green fingers, turn your spoil into soil and cut down on household food waste with our guide!

🌿 Keep calm and keep composting. 🌿

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile

No idea what we’re talking about? Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything you have to do step by step and you’ll understand how to make organic compost for yourself.

What is compost?

Compost is the result of composting: the process of decomposition of organic matter in which micro-organisms, fungi, earthworms and oxygen all play a part. Composting prevents bad smells and means the waste you generate doesn’t rot, instead allowing you to create this high quality fertiliser known as compost.

Why make compost?

Need some convincing? Before you learn how to make organic compost, here are some more reasons why it’s a great idea to make your own fertiliser by composting.

  • It offers a 100% natural solution for soil fertilisation, with no chemical substances to reduce soil quality through contamination.
  • It helps plant growth.
  • It aids household recycling, reducing organic waste and contributing to the reduction of environmental problems linked to its transportation and treatment.
  • It can offer a good way to work as part of a community (try installing a composter in your neighbourhood, or the communal yard of your building).

What do you need to make compost?

1. Organic matter (that’s the food waste!)
2. A composter
3. Soil
4. Dry leaves
5. Moisture and oxygen

What can be composted?

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost fruit peel• Fruit and vegetable waste (except for banana peels and citrus fruits, which are recommended in smaller quantities)
• Tea leaves and coffee grounds. Filters can also be composted but if using tea bags, watch out for staples!
• Withered flowers and plants from around the house
• Sawdust, wood shavings and wood ash (untreated and not chipboard)
• Egg shells
• Gardening and vegetable patch waste
• Waste from pruning trees, bushes and hedges (chopped up in advance) and cut grass
• Household waste: kitchen roll, cardboard or corrugated card egg boxes, newspaper (not colour-printed)

How to make organic compost

1. Invest in a composter or a worm factory

You will need to situate the composter near the soil in a damp place or in the shade. If you live in a flat, you can use a worm factory and put it on the terrace.


The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost composter

Example of a simple garden composter

 

 

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile indoor worm farm

Indoor worm factory examples

 

2. Add organic matter

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile composter outside

 

First add a layer of dry materials (leaves, branches). Then, add the organic waste that you want to recycle and water thoroughly.
If you prefer, you can cut or grind up the waste to speed up the composting process.

3. Add soil

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile add soil

Add another layer of dry materials and cover this with some soil.

4. Mix it!

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost tools needed

You will need to stir the mix every so often because, as noted above, the composting process requires oxygen to take place, making it a good idea to air it out often. Use a hoe, fork or a pitchfork like the one in the picture.

How can you tell if it’s ready?

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile dirt compost

It normally takes around 4 to 6 months to produce your organic fertiliser (compost).
As for the amount, this depends on the absorbency of the materials used in the compost mix (the amount itself, whether it’s ground up or not, how often you mix it…).
As a guideline, you will produce around 20kg of compost for every 100kg of organic waste. Voila! Now you know how to make organic compost!

Things to consider throughout the composting process

1. The temperature

Due to the activity of the developing microorganisms, your compost will heat up to around 60°C. This temperature will usually decrease bit by bit. If not, then you need to check what the compost looks like:

• If it’s very dry: grey fungi may occur. To lower the temperature you should water the compost to return its required moisture level.
• If it has a strange smell or a greenish appearance: this means there is too much water in the compost. To counteract this, add more dry materials (branches, leaves, dry grass).

2. The microorganisms

  • Fresh or semi-mature compost

After reaching high temperatures or a peak of heat, wriggler worms will appear on top (they are pink with white rings). At this stage the compost is labelled fresh or semi-mature. It can be used for spreading on poor or sandy soils, or around plants.

  • Mature compost

Mature compost, like semi-mature compost, can be used to plant trees or bushes. Its main feature is its dark hue.

 

Composting techniques

There are three techniques you need to consider when learning how to make organic compost. The technique you choose will depend on the amount of space and time you can dedicate to it.

1. Composting in heaps

This consists of making a heap of soil fertiliser. This can be done if you have plenty of space (a large garden or vegetable patch/ orchard). Although this technique is similar to the layer technique explained above, here the layers overlap horizontally. This process is much faster.

2. Composting in silos

For this composting method, you need a large container, usually round or wooden, which you will cover in transparent plastic sheeting. One side is detachable, making it easy to monitor the composting process.

3. Composting directly in the ground

This makes the decomposition of waste go directly into the ground. You will deposit the waste in the soil where your crops will be planted, until decomposed. This is the easiest technique, requiring no extra work.

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile composter complete

Still got green fingers? Keep adding to your garden here: 

Garden Ideas on a Budget

Garden Design Ideas – Furniture Inspiration

 

Some people prune their plants every day, whilst others never even consider it! However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated to reach that middle ground. That’s why we want to help you learn how to prune the two most common plants in your garden.

Go on, stalk us below!

To do the cuttings, you will need:

Which plants do I prune?

This can be difficult to answer because, as a rule, not all plants need pruned, and when they do, the time in the year varies depending on the plant. This is because the main reason to prune a plant is to control growth and define the shape for the following season.

For example, Hydrangeas bloom on the buds formed in the previous year. If you take their cuttings in winter then you will remove these buds, meaning that throughout the year you won’t see a single flower.

Spring-flowering shrubs should be pruned in late June, after they have flowered. We recommend pruning larger shrubs quite hard, whilst giving the younger plants just a small cut at the back.

How to prune roses

Roses are pruned in spring to rejuvenate the plant and stimulate its growth. Remove all of the dead or dying stems, as well as those with a brown interior as this implies that the winter cold has frozen them.

Always cut above a bud that is growing towards the outside of the plant, at a height of around 5cm or 6cm above. This allows the sap to reach the bud as normal, fostering growth.
It is also important to remove any stems or twigs growing at the base of the plant, sometimes known as suckers. It’s highly likely that your rose has been grafted, and allowing these branches to grow not only leaches nutrients from the rest of the plant, but can also eventually kill the grafted part.

thehandymano manomano prune plants rose cutting prune

How to prune geraniums

Geraniums are pruned in late winter or early spring. This will strengthen the plant and remove the thick, unproductive stems that tend to spoil them.
Pruning geraniums is much more drastic, as you are reducing the plant almost to ground level. This can be difficult to come to terms with at first, but, remember that for each stem you cut, more will appear!
Remove any stems that are diseased or weak, and any others that obstruct the shape you want to give the plant. The more compact geraniums are, the better they look and the more flowers will bloom.
Don’t forget that from all of the offshoots you remove, you can take cuttings for new plants. Cut the stem on an angle, apply rooting powder, and sow them in a pot with new soil.
During the blooming period, remove any flower heads the minute they begin to wither. This will allow the plant to produce new flowers instead of wasting its precious nutrients on the creation of new seeds. Cut the heads at their lowest point, right where they join the main stem. This will activate dormant buds, which will begin to grow and form new buds.

thehandymano manomano prune plants geraniums cutting prune

Top tips on how to prune

  • Don’t forget that a cut is basically a small wound that we’re creating on the plant. To prevent it from becoming infected, we recommend you use pruning sealer any time the cut has a diameter greater than 5mm. To use, apply the sealant to the cut area then spread with your fingers around the sides of the stalk. It’s a good product to keep handy not only when you are pruning, but also as a preventative measure in case of accidental breakage of our plants, grafts, or any damage caused by frost or hail. If you don’t have access to pruning paint then just make sure that you prune at the correct time of the year, as this will leave the cut to naturally heal itself!
  • You also need to keep your pruning tools sufficiently well maintained.
    One of the most important things to do is disinfect them with alcohol any time you are working on a plant that may be diseased. This prevents disease from spreading from one flower to another.
  • Quality pruning tools will provide many years of service. Make sure to clean them thoroughly after use, and oil them if you’re using them a lot. I personally recommend going for the well known brands, as you will also easily find spare parts or replacements if needed, saving yourself the price of new ones.
  • Last but not least, don’t forget to feed your plants. Especially if they’ve just survived the winter cold and now we’ve subjected them to stressful pruning.

We hope you rose to this occasion and will now help your flowers bloom!

When it rains : Gardening Advice

As the weather gets warmer, we can all start to appreciate a glass of wine on the decking after a long day. So why should small gardens be excluded? Whether you already have decking in your  garden or if you’re considering putting some in, our decking ideas for small gardens can help you make the most out of your humble space!

As a side note, if you’re wanting to build your own decking then make sure that you plan your decking space based on exactly what you want on the deck. It needs to be big enough for any garden furniture you want there, as well as some room leftover to move! Make sure that you think about barbecues and other garden plants before choosing the shape and structure of your decking, which, once permanent, can be very difficult to change!

There’s always thyme

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens plant pots herbs flowers

 

You don’t need a huge garden to make the most of how great bright flowers can look on your decking. To add a simple burst of colour to your decking consider investing in various plantpots and filling them with the bright flowers of the season. Remember to choose plants which won’t shed leaves that will stain your decking, because, if they do stain your decking you’ll be scrubbing it with sandpaper for a while afterwards!

If you’re into your cooking, consider growing your own herb garden to add some vibrant green to your garden. Good choices for a herb garden include cilantro, basil, dill, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Don’t have much shade in your garden? Consider investing in some succulent plants (left photo) which need less light throughout the day compared to other plants.

Not for the paint hearted

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens paint decking and furnitureOne way to spruce up your small garden is to add colour to it by painting the wood or the furniture in it! Exterior wood paint comes in many colours and can also add to the life span of your decking by protecting the wood. You can opt for a bright colour or a dark brown colour depending on your garden accessories. Our top tip when painting a wood surface is to make sure that it hasn’t previously been oiled. If it has been oiled, the paint won’t stick and it can ruin your decking! If you insist on painting the surface then make sure to fully sand the wood down first and using a paint remover to prevent problems.

Bright Idea

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens outdoor lighting fairy lights

If you’re putting the decking up yourself, then make sure to take advantage of existing trees and shrubbery for shade and privacy, especially over Summer! However, if you have a poorly lit small garden with decking then consider filling it with outdoor lights to make the summer evenings last even longer! Strings of lights work best for really small gardens because they don’t take up much room but can light up a small area, especially with the help of a few candles!

Wood you cut it out?

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens wood on wall

 

Recently finished the decking and have some planks of wood left over? Use any spare deck boards for landscaping up the walls. It can add a quirky touch to your garden and means that you don’t have to break the bank when making your garden look different!

Treat yourshelf

thehandymano mano mano decking ideas for small gardens shelves shelf plant pots save space

If you don’t have spare wooden planks to use for the walls, then why not decorate the walls differently by putting up shelves and placing plant pots on top of them? Shelves can save a lot of floor space which means that you can squeeze some garden furniture into gaps which were previously taken up by plant pots.

Want more garden ideas?

Small Vegetable Garden Design Tips

When it rains : Gardening Advice

To celebrate the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan, we thought we would help you out with some money saving tactics for an outdoor wedding. We know how expensive weddings can be, but with our ideas for outdoor DIY wedding venues you can still have a beautiful wedding whilst keeping a lid on your budget! Fortunately, many of these DIY ideas can also be transferred to other outdoor events too! You’ll be so proud of hosting a DIY outdoor event that you’ll be made of honour

DIY Wedding Flowers

Flowers can take up a lot of a wedding’s budget, our first tip is that if you are going to buy them them from a florist then try not to mention that it’s for a wedding straight away. That way, you can see what their prices are like before the wedding mark-up fee, and they are likely to stick to their original price rather than charging you more just because it’s a bigger occasion.

However, to really save some money, we recommend growing your own roses in your garden first (if you have the time!). You can grow them from your own cuttings by selecting roses with long, strong and healthy stems. Make the cuttings 25cm long, leaving one leaf at the top but removing the rest. Our top tip is to stick the cutting into a potato before planting it in the soil – this will make sure that the plant receives enough moisture to prevent it from drying out.

To prepare your rose bouquets by hand, first place them all in a tall bucket filled with cool water and floral preservative. Then, gently take the outer layer of bruised petals off each head and skim the thorns with a sharp floral knife (note: make sure that you don’t cut them off as they act as a water reservoir!). Next, cut the bottom of each stem at an angle and immediately place them back into the cold water until they fully ‘open up’ again. Once the roses have fully opened, begin to arrange them by placing one stem between your forefinger and thumb and then adding each stem on top of the previous one until you have created a bouquet (this is fiddly, but worth it!). Remember to keep checking the top of the bouquet to ensure that that it is round and balanced. Finally, wrap the bouquet in stretchy floral tape (available at craft stores) leaving a 2 inch gap at the bottom so that you can place the flowers back into the water until you’re ready to use them!

Another tip is to add Gypsophila (also known as baby’s-breath, shown below) around the bouquet to give it a finishing touch! The flowers can be found very cheaply and also look great as hair pieces, center pieces on the table, and as decorations.

thehandymano mano mano diy outdoor wedding party decoration rose bouquet 2

 

Don’t go bacon my heart – Food and Drink Ideas

Catering for a large number of people is never cheap, so have you ever considered doing a large barbecue instead? It can take some planning, but can leave your guests full with good food for a much smaller price!

When planning your menu, it is important to consider the person who will actually be running the grill – we recommend asking a trusted friend or neighbour, or asking your family to take turns on it (depending on the size of your wedding). Once you have organised this, then you can buy meat in bulk such as pork, chicken, ribs, hot dogs, burgers and seafood…)and focus on creating some delicious sides! Consider serving your salads in mason jars, and corn on the cob on a stick, keeping in mind that it can’t be too messy to eat! Some other great side dishes are fruit, coleslaw, potato salad and grilled vegetables. For dessert, it’s worth noting that wedding cake goes with everything (yes, even barbecues 😉 ), however, you can always serve bite size summer desserts such as ice cream, cheesecake or grilled peaches instead to really keep within the rustic barbecue theme.

For the drinks, you can use a either a planter or a wheelbarrow to keep them cool. Simply fill it up with lots of ice and place your glass bottles in to keep them cool! It an take them up to an hour to cool down so we recommend topping it up with water to encourage the ice to melt and submerge the bottles fully.

 thehandymano mano mano diy outdoor wedding party decoration barbecue

Remarqueeable DIY Garden Wedding Decorations

Even if your wedding is in the middle of Summer, make sure you have an ‘indoor’ area available for guests in case the British weather turns against you! A gazebo or a marquee can provide cool shade from the sun or shelter from any rain and keep you and your guests happy! As the structures are relatively simple, it gives you a lot of freedom with how to decorate it! Fairy lights can add a perfect touch as the sun begins to set, and you can use solar lamps around pathways to make sure that your guests don’t go stumbling anywhere. For the day time reception, you could also use Tulle, the most versatile fabric for weddings, to drape around entrances and make the gazebo romantic.

 

thehandymano mano mano diy outdoor wedding party decoration marquee

Wood you just look at that!

We are clearly unable to write an article without including our favourite pallets! Pallets are so easy to disassemble an assemble again that we can’t stop finding new uses for them. They’re also great because you can often find them for free (find out how here) which can help you save some extra money at your DIY wedding. So, what do we suggest you use the pallets for? Here’s a list of just a few ideas:

-Personalised signs for information or adorable purposes (see photo below)

-Build your own comfortable chairs like this one or stack them up and throw a blanket over them!

-Build your own easy bar! Find out how to here

-To make your own lanterns like this one

-To show your guests their seating plan (you can even leave the pallet unpainted for a more rustic feel if you want)

 

thehandymano mano mano diy outdoor wedding party decoration pallet

 

What do you call a melon that’s not allowed to get married? A cantelope…

Enjoy more articles below!

 

How to Make a Pallet Bed

How to Make a DIY Pallet Trolley

To celebrate National Gardening Week 2018, we have put together a list of our favourite edible flowers which you can grow at home! (No, we’re not pollen your leg…) Because why buy expensive edible flowers for cake decorating or herbal teas when you can just grab them from your garden instead?

Number 10 – Chrysanthemum


the handy mano manomano edible flowers chrysanthemum

You can use the bright petals to flavour and cream soups, fish chowder and even egg dishes! You can also make your own chrysanthemum tea by drying out the leaves and placing them in tea strainer into hot water. The tea can provide many health benefits such as relieving stress and anxiety, migraine pains; digestion after a heavy meal, high blood pressure and can boost your metabolism. Pretty impressive for something which is just growing in the garden, isn’t it?

Number 9 – Hollyhock

the handy mano manomano hollyhock edible flower hollyhock

It is quite well known that these stunning petals are often dried out, crystallized then used to decorate cakes. But, similar to Chrysanthemums, they can also be used to sooth respiratory and urinary tracts in the body and also relieve dry coughs. However, Hollyhock is one of the few flowers that can be used fresh in salads, added to light baking and infused in syrups due to its mild floral taste.

Number 8 – Pot Marigold

the handy mano manomano hollyhock edible flower pot marigold

When first discovered, these plants were said to have relieved hiccups and the effects of being struck by lightening… Nowadays, Pot marigolds have a naturally intense colour and peppery taste making them great for soups, stews and puddings. You can also use the petals in vinegar or added to oil or butter – what could be butter? 

Number 7 – Rose


the handy mano manomano edible flowers rose petals

Coming from the strawberry and apple family, it is said that the more fragrant a rose then the nicer it is to eat! These petals can be crystallized, used to flavour drinks (eg rose lemonade) and even ice summer cakes. Other uses are to mix some dry petals in butter to make it more fragrant for baking, leave it amongst sugar to change the flavour of your tea, and to alter the taste of vinegar when used in salads. Are you able to rose up to the challenge?

Number 6 – Hibiscus

the handy mano manomano edible flowers hibiscus

Hibiscus is known for its distinctive flavour and deep colours, although, many don’t realise that it has powerful antioxidant levels which are even higher than those in green tea! The most surprising common use for it is in tacos – yes, tacos – as it is commonly used as a meat substitute and mixed with roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed vegetables before being wrapped in a tortilla leaf. For the meat lovers, you can throw some hibiscus tea into a marinade to tenderise beef or lamb whilst adding a lot of lfavour and colours due to its tannins (which are the same as the ones in red wine).

Number 5 – Sweet Violet

thehandymano mano mano edible flowers sweet violet

These delicate flowers are bursting with colour making them perfect to decorate soufflés or to garnish cakes with. They have been found to be slightly laxative and are also a gentle expectorant but have many uses such as used fresh in salads, used to colour and flavour vinegar, made into a delicate jelly, mixed into porridge, and even fermented into a sweet wine! It’s clear that these bright beauties have more to them than meets the eye, and can alter your cooking experience for the better!

Number 4 – Tiger Lily

 

the handy mano manomano tiger lily edible flowers

It is important to note that despite the Tiger Lily being fit for human consumption, parts can be toxic to cats so make sure that you keep your feline friends far from your culinary creations! In Asia, the plant is grown for its edible bulb, which when cooked, resembles a turnip flavour! You can also boil, pickle or use the bulbs to make starch/ The flowers, on the other hand, can be used fresh and dried in soups, salads, omelets and rice dishes. Make sure to do some research about what type of Tiger Lily plant you have though, as some can be unsettling for the stomach!

Number 3 – Bergamot

the handy mano manomano edible flowers bergamot

These funky flowers are members of the mint family and have a surprisingly strong spicy scent which makes them perfect for tea but they also compliment savoury food such as bacon, poultry, rice and pasta. The strong flavour also makes it a perfect addition to a cocktail or in a sweet dish (such as cookies or muffins) alongside rosemary. If you have any left over, you can always throw them into a potpourris to add colour and spread its scent!

Number 2 – Sunflower

the handy mano manomano edible flowers sunflower

Known for its majestic petals and use in cooking oils, the sunflower has many more uses in the kitchen. Pull the seedlings from your sunflower patch while they are around 6 inches tall. You can eat the sunflower sprouts straight from the ground, on top of salads, or in a stir fry, meaning that you get to enjoy a meal whilst cutting down on plant waste! You can also eat the leaves of older plants alone or in in a salad, meaning that not a single part of this flower goes to waste. You can also, of course, place the flower heads in a dry and well ventilated place and allow the seeds to mature before eating them too. This plant can basically give you a three course meal if you want it to!

Number 1 – Nasturtium

the handy mano manomano edible flowers nasturtium

We chose this brightly-coloured, peppery flower as our favourite because you can use the whole flower in salad and pasta dishes, as well as on egg and toast as pictured above! Both the leaves and the petals of this flower are packed with nutrition and contain high levels of vitamin C meaning that it can help improve the immune systel, tackle sore throats and fight bacterial and fungal infections, whilst having lots of flavour packed in too! Why not make it the star of your meal tonight?

Still got green fingers? Dig into our other garden articles…

Hacks to Help You Prepare for Your Spring Garden

Garden Design – Spring Garden Planter Ideas