Variable raw material the key to compost success

ONE OF the biggest problems I come across whilst visiting gardens throughout the Mountains, is the amount of variation and raw material is never enough for a successful compost.

This can be corrected with a few gardens joining together and contributing to one combusts area. Autumn leaves and lawn clippings are vital for compost success. Turning the compost regularly and adding a little water and dry material (pea straw), will quickly (4-6 weeks) break down the raw matter, into good garden-ready material.

I call the garden composting area the "garden's engine room". In the end it's all worthwhile when you have a super-rich garden full of organic material.

So let's begin with building a compost. A healthy, open air compost is a mixture of brown leaves (carbon,) green material and lawn clippings (nitrogen).

The open air method gives visual control on how raw materials are breaking down. If kitchen scraps are composted, this method allows you to see what's going on. Always dig a hole to bury the kitchen scraps.

What other materials can be composted?

Basically all plant matter, as long as there is a balance between green material (nitrogen) and brown material, (carbon) but I would not recommend invasive or root running grasses and weeds.

During winter, it's just as important as in other seasons to regularly turn your compost, using a garden fork. Always begin at the bottom of your compost as this will allow air to flow through the compost material.

The two basic composting methods are the "enclosed bin" and "open air".

Which of the two is preferred is up to the gardener, however a compost's success depends on balancing carbon and nitrogen; a sweet smell is the sign of a healthy compost. I like to check daily what is happening with my compost, so I prefer the open air method.

To build a successful compost a constant supply of raw and diverse material is vital. The raw material is best added in layers, and adding lime helps break down the kitchen scraps.

In autumn and winter, leaf matter, straw, sawdust, pea straw, and even shredded paper can be added to a compost.

Sweet smell: A healthy, open air compost is a mixture of brown leaves ( carbon,) green material and lawn clippings (nitrogen).

Sweet smell: A healthy, open air compost is a mixture of brown leaves ( carbon,) green material and lawn clippings (nitrogen).