The LWTM compost symbol
Compost is a great gardening tool and best of all it is free. Chemical fertilizers are expensive and damaging to wildlife. If you have not yet got a compost heap or bin, here are a few tips on how to get started:
Home-made compost is cheap and easy to make, but the downside is that it takes around 6 months to gestate. The speed depends on the position of your heap (sun or shade) and the climate.
The most productive location in your garden is in a hidden corner, away from direct sunlight in dabbled shade. If you keep your bin/heap in full sun then the compost soil will dry out too quickly. But positioning it completely in the shade will decrease the time good quality compost is produced.
The best time to start a compost heap is during Waning Moon, the nearer to the New Moon the better, or whenever you see the compost heap symbol on the LWTM lifestyle calendar. Compost needs heat to develop, so the best time to start one is in early spring to early autumn. During the cold winter months, the compost soil will lay dormant and the process will restart when the weather gets warmer in spring.
What type of container shall I use?
There are many different varieties on the market. You can buy either a custom made container (usually made of wood) or you can buy one off the shelve (usually made of plastic).
I have also seen biodynamic compost heaps that are made out of four wooden posts and chicken wire. I would not recommend them as heat escapes too quickly and the process is not as efficient as it could be.
If you don’t want to opt for a container, then the best natural alternative is to dig a hole in the ground (roughly one square meter wide and one meter deep). That means the earth will act as insulation and all you need to do is cover it with a piece of wood or old carpet to protect the compost from the element
Once in place, sprinkle some earth on the ground, then add organic kitchen waste, grass clippings, leaves, eggshells, coffee and tea bags, hair, straw and wood ash. Avoid all kinds of weeds, metal, glass, plastic, cleaning agents, plants with diseases, dairy products and meat.
Make sure the waste is balanced
To achieve a good balance apply the four-element rule:
Fire Make sure that compost is not too dry
Air Make sure the compost gets enough air
Water Make sure the compost is not too wet and slimy
Earth Make sure the ingredients are balanced.
Once the waste has reached about 30 cm (one foot), add a thin layer of earth and some compost tonic, then carry on with another layer and spread some earth on top until the compost heap is full. Finally, cover the full heap with some soil and leave to develop.
How many compost heaps shall I have?
This depends on the size of your garden, but the minimum is two – one side to fill up and one to use. For a medium-size family garden, I would recommend three bins – one to fill up, one to develop and one to use. This system will ensure that you have good quality compost available all year round.
When shall I bring compost out?
This is the symbol to look out for when turning the soil and to bring compost out. Earth Days are great for this.