Heap good idea – compost at heart of the gardenBy James Ashford
October 03, 2008
Over the next two months most of us will have lots of garden waste to get rid of and the best place for most of it is in the compost heap.
The compost heap is at the very heart of every organic garden.
It turns ordinary garden waste into fuel for the next season’s crops.
Compost heaps come in all shapes and sizes but as a general rule the bigger they are the more efficient they become.
This is because a big heap generates more heat, which means that it will be able to kill any residual weed seeds and can safely break down diseased plant material.
In a perfect world you would have three heaps on the go at the same time.
One to keep adding new stuff to, one that is working away and one that is ready to be used on the garden.
Few of us have enough space in our gardens for that kind of system but we should all be able to find a corner that can accommodate at least one heap.
You can buy swish purpose-built compost heaps from garden centres or you can knock one up yourself from a few old pallets.
You can sometimes even get them at a discount from your local council – check out their websites for any special deals.
But whatever you use, the real trick to making good compost is to have a good mix of stuff going in.
Too much wet green leafy material will mean that the heap collapses in on itself. The centre of the heap will not get enough oxygen and it will start to smell.
Too much dry woody material will mean that the heap will be very slow to break down taking years instead of months to yield any useful compost.
A good mixture of the two will mean that you have a sweet-smelling heap which works really well.
To find out more about composting have a look at the Garden Organic website at www.gardenorganic.org.uk, where you can find expert advice on all aspects of composting.