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How to Compost and the Different Types of Compost Bins (page 1 of 2)

Learn about the different types of compost bins and what household items can be composted.

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Courtesy of © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Composting is the natural breakdown of organic matter to produce a crumbly nutrient-rich soil. The resulting compost can be added to other soil types as a fertilizer, forming an excellent growing medium for plants. By managing this natural process in your own garden, you can dispose of waste, and produce an agent that will improve the look and yield of any plants and flowers. Regardless of the size of your outdoor space, there will be a composting solution to suit your needs.

Making Compost

Theories vary on how to produce the perfect compost, but there are some general rules. Firstly, a suitable container or store is required. Different types and designs are shown here, including homemade, shop-bought, and recycled varieties. As the natural process of composting generates heat, storing compost in a container enables the heat to be retained more easily, and allows for the efficient breakdown of material. It is best to keep a compost heap covered to retain this heat, and to prevent rain from making the compost too wet. While some moisture is needed, it is usually supplied in the form of moist grass cuttings and other green waste.

Building Up Layers

A system of layering different materials will aid the composting process and enhance the finished product. A layer of coarser, more fibrous material, for example, will introduce air to the center of the heap, which is vital as composting is an aerobic process. However, this may not always be a straightforward task. In the height of summer, for example, the majority of layers are likely to be grass clippings, so it is important to make sure you break up large amounts of one material with other layers—perhaps from the kitchen.

The process of composting takes between two and nine months. You will need to gain access to the base of the heap to take out the crumbly, fully decomposed compost for use on the garden. Some containers have an access hatch at the bottom of the container, while others may need one side to be disassembled so that the bottom level of compost can be dug out.

Slatted bins are great for gaining access to the bottom of the heap. The sides are easily disassembled, and the compost is normally integrated enough not to spill out (image below).

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

The Different Types of Bins

Purpose-built plastic bins are fitted with a hatch at the bottom for easy access of composted material (image 1). A slatted wooden bin encourages greater air circulation, improving the ventilation of the heap (image 2). A wooden sectioned bin can be disassembled in layers, allowing the heap height to be raised or lowered as required (image 3). As well as looking attractive, a hurdle-style compost bin offers good ventilation. The heap is accessed by removing one side (image 4). A concrete bin may have a block or slatted structure. Unlike its wooden alternatives, it will not rot (image 5). Large recycled containers, such as those used to deliver building materials, make ideal compost bins (image 6).

Wormeries

A wormery performs the same task as a compost heap, but on a smaller scale. Worms are kept inside a suitable container, where they eat organic matter; their waste products are then used as a fertilizer. Tiger worms are best for the job, as they live and feed on decomposing compost (unlike common earthworms, which prefer to burrow in soil). You can make your own wormery, or buy a kit that comes with a supply of tiger worms.Composting is the natural breakdown of organic matter to produce a crumbly nutrient-rich soil. The resulting compost can be added to other soil types as a fertilizer, forming an excellent growing medium for plants. By managing this natural process in your own garden, you can dispose of waste, and produce an agent that will improve the look and yield of any plants and flowers. Regardless of the size of your outdoor space, there will be a composting solution to suit your needs.Theories vary on how to produce the perfect compost, but there are some general rules. Firstly, a suitable container or store is required. There are different types and designs, including homemade, shop-bought and recycled varieties. As the natural process of composting generates heat, storing compost in a container enables the heat to be retained more easily, and allows for the efficient breakdown of material. It is best to keep a compost heap covered to retain this heat, and to prevent rain from making the compost too wet. While some moisture is needed, it is usually supplied in the form of moist grass cuttings and other green waste.

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