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. 🌿
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
4. Dry leaves
5. Moisture and oxygen
What can be composted?
• 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.
Example of a simple garden composter
Indoor worm factory examples
2. Add organic matter
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
Add another layer of dry materials and cover this with some soil.
4. Mix it!
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?
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, like semi-mature compost, can be used to plant trees or bushes. Its main feature is its dark hue.
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.
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