1. Wormeries are a great alternative for small spaces
If your space is limited and you only produce low quantities of waste material, think about starting a wormery.
just need to keep a good balance of veg material and ripped up
cardboard. Worms don’t like lots of onions, citrus or chillies though.
You’ll get great worm compost and the nutritious “tea” and some pets to
look after, they will increase in number if all is well. (Carl Legge)
2. You can put more on your compost than you’d think
Cardboard egg boxes, coffee grounds, leftover ash from log fires, human and pet hair, toilet roll tubes and even bedding from hamsters, gerbils and other pets are all fine additions to your compost heap. Moss is good in small measures, as are egg shells, even though they take a while to break down – “the worms will
eventually eat them” according to Garden Organic. Stay away from barbecue briquette ash, though, as this contains nasty chemicals. The jury is still out on cat and dog poo.
3. Use bokashi bins to compost smelly food waste
Fish, bones, even curry … You can put a huge array of food stuffs into a bokashi bin – just make sure to add bokashi bran regularly so it doesn’t cause a stink, and then leave it to ferment.
Once it’s ready you then
transfer it to your existing compost bin and hey presto, you can put
food waste in your regular compost. It even helps to speed up the
composting process. (Jonathan Adler)
If that wasn’t enough, the bokashi process gives a
liquid by-product which can be put in your drains undiluted to help keep
them clean, or you can dilute it and use it to feed your plants.
4. Leave slugs to do their thing
Slugs are an important part of the composting process – they eat through your organic remains and help it become compost. And the other advantage is that if the slugs are in your compost bin, they’re not on your plants.
5. Don’t overload your compost with leaves
If you’ve heaps of leaves a full-size or mini single-use builder bag
does a good job. Fill it with moist/wet leaves, then lash the handles
together and forget for 12-18 months. You get to use every scrap of leaf
mould this way. (John Walker)
6. Getting the right ratio is key, and a bit of an experiment
Most of the panel agreed that a 50:50 ratio between green and brown ingredients is about right (although Carl Legge argued for a ratio of two parts green to one part brown).
Green ingredients include vegetable and fruit trimmings, banana skins,
tea leaves/bags, coffee grounds, chopped nettles/comfrey, and lawn mowings. Brown ingredients include scrunched paper, ripped/wet cardboard, egg boxes, chopped plant stems, straw, and hay.
As a general rule, if you grab a handful of compost and moisture squeezes out, the heap is too
wet. If your handful feels dry and sounds crackly, your compost is too dry. Add more green ingredients to dry compost, and more brown ingredients to wet compost.
7. It’s OK to be a bit lazy
Our panel was fairly unanimous in thinking that positioning is one of the key factors to a successful compost heap.
If you hide your compost far away in a damp, dank, dark area, you are
less likely to use it and attend to it. Well managed compost
arrangements are less likely to attract vermin because you are often
there doing things and moving the compost. (Carl Legge)
Instead, position your kit where it’s easy for you to get to and use, come rain or
shine. Or, if you’re feeling particularly productive, you can build a compost bin out of old loose bricks, heap it full of material and let it rot down into
compost. Later, just take the bricks away, mark out the edge of the bed, and work the compost into the soil. Easy peasy!
8. There’s a lot more to discuss!
We had a fantastic range of questions submitted, and unfortunately we couldn’t answer them all. We’ll be exploring those discussions and questions for future debates and commissions.
What other things would you like to chat about?