How to Start Composting in the Garden or Allotment

Composting in the garden at home, or in the allotment, is an easy and environmentally-friendly way to get rid of kitchen scraps and other raw food waste. It is also FREE soil improver for your own use and can help you grow better fruit and veg. You can use homemade compost to improve the texture of your soil, improve the soil’s moisture retention, as well as improve drainage in your soil. Homemade compost could also add nutrients to your soil, which may help your fruit and veg grow bigger and better, as well as suffer from fewer pests and diseases. Learn how to make good compost below.

red and green fruits on brown wooden bench
Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

Do you need a compost bin to make good compost at home?

Firstly, you don’t need anything special like a composting bin or old pallets, as the simplest way to make compost is just a pile. However, it is neater and tidier to have a dedicated area which is accessible and contained. Some old pallets are great if you have the space, but many modern gardens simply aren’t big enough for those. This is partly why composting bins are so popular, because they keep everything compact, neat, and tidy. The other thing is, how much space do you actually need for composting? Do you even need the space for a pile?

Most households don’t generate masses of raw kitchen scraps and peelings and it would take an awfully long time to generate enough to make a big pile of compost, and then you’ve still got to wait until the compost breaks down and turns into a more soil-like consistency. So here’s an alternative option – just bury the scraps. Take your kitchen little green bin and dig a hole next to your veg or fruit patch, and just chuck a handful of peelings and random veg ends in there. Cover it over with several inches of soil, and compress it back down. This is the absolute easiest way to make compost and benefit your soil as soon as possible. The existing worms will soon start working on it and it will likely break down quite quickly due to this.

Are worm composting bins better?

If you have a lot of kitchen waste, then some kind of bin or pile makes more sense, but the options are still going to be based on how big your garden is. If your garden is small, but you have a lot of scraps, then it might make more sense to make or buy a wormery instead (worm composting bin).

A worm bin might be a great alternative way to make compost in a small garden, but they’re not exactly cheap, so you could always try making one yourself for much less money. However, either way, they’re a great thing to have, even if you have a normal compost heap or compost bin already. These are the advantages and benefits of worm composting:

  1. Save space – you can stack layers upwards, composting on a small footprint
  2. They can be cheap if you make them yourself
  3. They give you compost AND “worm tea” – you can use this as liquid fertiliser
  4. You can introduce kids to the wonders of worms
  5. They don’t smell, unlike a most compost heaps

What to put in your compost bin for good compost

Raw kitchen scraps such as potato peelings, tops of carrots, discarded seeds from cucumbers, pumpkins, etc, crushed raw egg shells, all these sorts of things can go in. Vegetables and fruit that have gone past it can also go in. Grass clippings and weeds can go in too, and are actually highly desirable because clippings and green leaves from weeds add nitrogen, essential for the garden. You also need to throw in some “brown material” to add carbon to the mixture, this would be matte newspapers, toilet rolls, torn up cardboard, and torn up card egg boxes (all without any glossy print or plasticky bits). You want about 50-75% of the contents to be this carbon-based material, which could also include tree prunings or wood chippings, random old twigs, dead leaves, and old straw.

Do you compost already? What is your preferred method? Have you ever tried or made a worm bin for yourself? Let me know in the comments.