Composting; How to make your own compost

Composting; How to make your own compost

As a gardener, I have found composting to be the easiest and cheapest way to boost my soil nutrients. I decided from the time I started gardening not to use synthetic fertilizers but to focus solely on organic fertilizers and as much as possible DIY ones too. I use mostly manure and compost in the garden, I’ve also found a few trusted organic plant food brands that I use as complements.

I find composting fun and very easy to do. By recycling my kitchen scraps, I keep my plants healthy and fed all year round.

Compost is a mixture of ingredients used to fertilise and improve the soil. Compost is commonly prepared by decomposing plant and food waste, recycling the organic materials so that the mixture is rich in plant nutrients and beneficial organisms such as worms and fungal mycelium. (Source  Wikipedia)

Compost can come in form of compost teas and slurries or as dried compost. For this post I’d be focusing on “dry” compost.

To make good compost you need a good balance of Greens and Browns.

Greens: Nitrogen Content
Browns: Carbon Content

Most gardeners swear that a ratio of 70% Nitrogen material to 30% carbon material make the best balance for great compost. I tend to follow that principle.

Green sources include leafy vegetables and stalks, green grass chippings, plantain/banana peels, onion peels, potato peels, coffee ground, eggshells etc. All these can be sourced from your kitchen scraps.

Brown sources include dried browned shredded grass, rice husk, used paper or newspaper, shredded carton, sawdust, toilet roll, coconut coir, soil etc.

Here is how make my Compost

  • I make my compost in a perforated container, this is to allow aeration in the compost for easy breakdown, to allow water flow out and so that the compost will also not stink.
I used a hot metal to perforate the bucket. The compost in this bin took longer to break down because I didn’t chop some of the contents up properly.
  • I use kitchen scraps like peels from yam, plantain, bananas, potatoes, beets, onions, eggshells, vegetable stalks… for my greens.
  • For browns, I predominantly use either Sawdust, Soil or  Coconut coir, and sparingly use cardboard, used paper or newspaper etc.
  • Remember to chop up everything going into your compost bin small bits, so that they can degrade faster. Remove any seed element from your greens or else some of your greens may start to grow in the compost.
I once had a domestic staff handle my compost bin. She decided to take the lazy route of dumping yam heads and whole rotting potatoes without chopping, in no time I had my compost bin growing yams and potatoes.
  • Water your compost once a week, ensure water soaks it through. Then turn the compost using a shovel or hand trowel, to mix the browns and greens properly together. Sometimes I do this by shaking or gently rolling the tightly closed bin.

The downside to using Sawdust as your brown is that takes longer to break down and it uses up a lot of nitrogen to break down. It could also contain all sorts of chemicals that were used in the preservation of the wood. If you use sawdust in your compost, introduce worms if the worms that survive and multiply the compost is ready, if they die it isn’t ready. If you have access, use rice husk or just use soil or other browns.

It usually takes about a month to fill each compost bin and thereafter I typically wait 2 – 3 months from when each compost bin is full before using the compost in my soil.

Bags of compost set aside till when they will be used.
A batch of nutrient-dense compost, ready for use.

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