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Compost Heap (Pile) – For a Healthy Garden

Compost - The Key to a Healthy Garden

A healthy garden requires a good rich soil to produce healthy plants and crops. Of course you can replenish and add nutrients with artificial fertilisers but nothing beats good compost.

Not only does compost contain the major nutrients, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (potash), but it contains trace nutrients like magnesium and humus. Humus it the magical substance that turns rock dust into soil.

It binds the dust, holds water, enables drainage and provides a home for the billions of bacteria and millions of worms on which the health of our soil depends,

Making A Compost Heap (Pile)

There a whole books devoted to compost making and magazines full of magical methods, adverts for additives and so on. Yet making good compost is a fairly simple thing to do.

There's no best time to make compost, it really depends when you have garden waste available. It's slower in cold weather but that just means things take longer.

Ideally you want a compost bin, this should be around 3 feet square and the same high. Scrap wood is fine to build it from or you can buy fancy ready made bins in wood for a small fortune or fairly cheap plastic bins.

Save up your green waste until you have a reasonable amount and then begin to build your pile. If you have a load of grass cuttings, you will need to mix those with twiggy and other materials to stop them compacting into a smelly mass. Torn up cardboard or shredded paper is a good mixer to add to grass cuttings.

Lay some stems or twigs on the ground to allow some air to flow into your compost pile and then put a six inch layer of green materials on top. You then need an activator, this could be something like a thin layer of horse or poultry manure or nitrogen fertiliser like sulphate of ammonia or prilled urea.

This is the fuel to get your heap going. Then put another six inch layer on the top but this time put a fine dusting of garden lime on top. This keeps the pile 'sweet', by which I mean it stops your compost from becoming acid which slows or stops bacterial action and worms.

Keep adding layers, alternating activator and lime until you have used your green waste up. Make sure it's not to dry – just damp is perfect. Then put a sheet of plastic or old carpet on the top to keep rain off and warmth in.

After a while, which will vary according to the time of year, the pile will halve in size. At this stage fork it over or better still move it into another bin to mix it all up and shortly after you will have a crumbly sweet smelling compost to improve your soil.

Compost is the way to ensure you have a healthy soil and a healthy soil will give you a healthy garden.


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