So, firstly we’ll take a look at the ideal composition of the compost itself. Both "brown" and "green" elements need to be present in good compost.
Green ingredients include natural materials like manure, weeds and fresh grass cuttings. These provide the nitrogen essential for good compost. Fresh manure is much stronger so you will need to use less than usual.
Brown ingredients are carbon rich, and include leaves, newspapers, straw, light cardboard and teabags.
A compost heap is a great and environmentally friendly way to recycle your kitchen scraps and waste. Almost any kitchen waste can be recycled with the exeption of dairy products, meat, fish and particularly fatty foods. Cooked food can attract rats, so it’s not recommended unless you have a sealed composter. Household waste that you wouldn’t expect to be useful again can also be great for compost, such as crushed eggshells, nail and hair clippings, and natural fibres such as wool.
If you don’t have much garden waste to recycle, and find that kitchen waste is your main compost material, it might be worth investing in a wormery. This style of compost bin uses worms to speed up the composting process, and is a very effective method of composting. The original set up cost can be expensive, but it’s a worthwhile investment. This method of composting also produces "compost tea" a black thick liquid that is great for fruit trees when diluted with water. If you are feeling overwhelmed by kitchen scraps, a compost caddy is a good idea, as it means you have a half way house on your way out to the main compost bin in the garden.
The second element of making your own compost is to invest in a good compost bin. Have a look to see what is around before deciding, as your specific requirements will decide for you which composter is best.
One of the most important elements of a good compost box is air circulation. If your composter doesn’t get air circulation, there’s always a risk that you will produce a slimey, smelly black mess that is in fact not good for the garden at all. However, there is also the problem of getting too much air, as you will be waiting forever for anything to compost!
There are two main types of garden composter on the market – wooden compost bins and plastic compost bins. Wooden bins are generally cheaper, and come in a variety of styles, from the stylish beehive style composter, to basic wooden boxes, which you can easily build yourself. The main problem with this type of bin is access – many only have a top lid to access the compost, great for loading but not so useful when you need to get to the good stuff at the bottom!
Plastic composters win here, as they have bottom and top access for putting your compost in and taking it out. Plastic composters are generally a bit more weather resistant than wooden composters, but also more expensive. A compost tumbler is a good idea – a bin that you can rotate to aerate the compost without having to get your hands dirty!
A good compromise is the Chamberlain Wooden Composter, a style designed to give the best of both worlds. This is a simple wooden composter with removable slats to ensure good aeration and easy access.